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Naude, Janet J.

Lulu, Child of Wozzeck and Marie: Towards an Understanding of Alban Berg, "Master of the Smallest Link", through his Vocal and Dramatic Music

Ph.D. University of Cape Town, 1997
(MUSJN@protem.uct.ac.za)

Analysis of Berg's vocal and dramatic music re-affirmed the leitmotivic nature of his oeuvre. Up to now, leitmotives have been investigated in individual works, especially the operas, but not between works. It was found that the frequent use of tremolo and equivalents in the early works became a leitmotive for moments of extreme mental turmoil in the operas. Incidences of the Tristan chord have been traced from Berg's first composition, "Heilige Himmel" (1901) to his last work, Lulu (1935). Berg employs C major, which is a common key in his early work, for his portrayal, later, of the distance travelled from C major to twelve-tone technique and to satirise "respectability" and the "prosiness" of money. Other elements traced are cross reference (self-quotation and quotation of other composers) and minor-major ambiguity.

An analysis of the Four Songs, Op. 2, provides a springboard for investigating later Bergian leitmotives such as the whole-tone tetrachord of Op. 2/2, the "Erdgeist Fourths", interval cycles, symmetry, retrograde, the rhythmic progression from "percussive" to melodic statements, D minor, cryptography and black-white-note dichotomy.

Autobiography had always been associated with the later works, but it was found already to be present in the Jugendlieder and Seven Early Songs. Transcriptions of unpublished documents, which throw further light on Berg's character and enigmatic public pose, are also included. They are excerpts from Berg's "Selbsterkenntnis", his "Bergwerk-Drama" (1907) and letters to Marie Scheuchl, mother of his illegitimate child, Hermann Watznauer, mentor during his adolescence, and mistresses, Anny A. and Edith E.

The music of Berg's alter ego, Alwa, namely Wozzeck, Der Wein and Lulu, confirms an intricate web of links and reveals compositional depiction of Western harmonic practice (Wozzeck III/4 and the D minor Interlude) and comment on the beginnings of what we consider "modern" today (Der Wein and Lulu), i.e. the social implications of the sequence Wozzeck to Lulu and Wozzeck's (Berg's other alter ego) "idées fixes".