Bard Music Festival exposes myths about Berg

Posted on: August 11, 2010

In Wednesday’s (8/11) Wall Street Journal, Barrymore Laurence Scherer writes, “In choosing the programming for the annual Bard Music Festival in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., Leon Botstein, its co-founder and (with Robert Martin and Christopher Gibbs) its co-artistic director, has never shied away from danger. For 20 seasons he has bravely ventured into repertoire where others rarely go. In addition to conducting fresh and detailed investigations into … immensely popular composers … he has devoted festivals to less immediately accessible figures, such as Schoenberg, Bártok and Charles Ives, not to mention such looming niche figures as Liszt and Elgar, thereby walking a box-office tightrope … For this 21st Bard Festival, Mr. Botstein is going out on that tightrope again, focusing on the work of Alban Berg (1885-1935). Berg is widely known as a leading light of the Second Viennese School—and that is a particular bone Mr. Botstein has to pick with history. … Unlike Schoenberg’s other star pupil, Anton Webern (who remained one of Berg’s lifelong friends), Berg never turned his back on musical tradition. Where Webern embraced atonality by creating a new compositional framework to justify it, Berg, who counted Mahler and Oscar Wilde among his idols, sought to express his new musical ideas within traditional frameworks.”

Posted August 11, 2010