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In the second of two articles, Leila Josefowicz discusses the Adagio of the second movement, in the context of the Viennese School and the Neue Sachlichkeit era

From Berg Violin Concerto. Urtext edition for violin and piano, paperbound with marked and unmarked string parts. Editor Michael Kube; pf reduction Jan Philip Schulze; vn fingering Frank Peter Zimmermann. Order on. HN821, ISMN 979-0-20180821-5, €29. Printed with permission of G. Henle Verlag, Munich © 2009. Orchestral material available from Breitkopf & Härtel

To me this piece is like water: it is one of the essential ingredients needed to survive in life. It is high art at its most profound, and whether you are religious or spiritual, or neither, to play or listen to it is a sacred experience and a prayer. It expresses and ruminates on feelings, thoughts and new ways of existence, and it is all the more poignant and tragic because it serves as a double requiem, for Berg’s friend Alma Manon Gropius, who died aged 18 from polio, and for himself, as the last piece he wrote before his own death. For anyone who has experienced the death of someone very close to them, this music gives a visceral, spiritually powerful picture. At the same time, this music is very technical, and it is impossible to discuss it clearly without following the full orchestral score. As for last month’s article, please have one on hand as you read, and familiarise yourself with Berg’s musical instructions and symbols. ­ese are essential for understanding how to play music of the 12-tone technique:

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About The Strad

Lisa Batiashvili discusses her latest projects and we delve into the mysterious world of varnish making. There’s a look at strategies for teaching adolescents, and Leila Josefowicz completes her look at Berg’s Violin Concerto. Plus Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Sentimental Work.