In the rolling hills of the Hudson River Valley it is to be a summer of Berg. This year's Bard Music Festival, based at Bard College, focuses on the almighty Austrian modernist and various kindred spirits. In addition to two weekends of concerts in August, Bard will present, in its allied Summerscape series, the American stage premiere of Franz Schreker's complexly decadent opera Der ferne Klang, for which Berg made the vocal score. The production, which opens on July 30, is by Thaddeus Strassberger, who did very well by Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots at last summer's festival. I'm also eager to hear Othmar Schoeck's deeply haunting song cycle Notturno, Franz Schmidt's apocalypse oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln, and (in concert) Kurt Weill's Royal Palace. Summerscape opens tonight with the first of several shows by the Trisha Brown Dance Company; an excerpt from Brown's Twelve Ton Rose, employing Webern's Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, is on the bill. Princeton University Press will soon publish the usual companion anthology, this one edited by the Berg and Schoenberg scholar Christopher Hailey, who also happens to be the world's leading authority on Schreker.
Patrick Swanson, who won Internet fame a few years back with his Which Major Work of Alban Berg Are You? quiz, recently directed my attention to a fascinating trove of Berg photographs on the Getty Images site. Many of these I had never seen before. There's one of Ernst Krenek delivering a eulogy at Berg's funeral; there's also a photo from the funeral of Gustav Klimt, with both Schoenberg and Berg visible in the upper left background (Berg looking foxy in his soldier's uniform). Here you can see the young Berg wading next to his brother Hermann, the co-inventor of the Teddy Bear. Alban looks very urchin-like in this childhood portrait. Where is that Berg coffeetable volume we've all been waiting for? And what about a Hollywood biopic, preferably starring Hugh Grant?