Alban Berg and Hanna Fuchs

Alban Berg and Hanna Fuchs

The Story of a Love in Letters
Constantin Floros
Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/4/2007
Format: cloth 168 pages, 7 b&w illus., 32 music exx.
5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-0-253-34966-8
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In the fall of 1976, 14 letters by Alban Berg, renowned composer of the Second Viennese School, were discovered in the posthumous papers of Hanna Fuchs-Robettin, wife of a Prague industrialist and sister of Franz Werfel, the well-known Austro-Czech writer. In the 1920s Berg gained international notoriety with his opera Wozzeck and the Lyric Suite, which was largely inspired by his relationship with Fuchs.

The secret letters were delivered to Hanna surreptitiously by Theodor Adorno and Alma Mahler Werfel. They were brought to New York by Hanna on her flight from Nazi persecution, and were eventually found in her estate after her death. First discovered by George Perle, then deciphered and transcribed in German by Constantin Floros, they appear here in English for the first time.

Author Bio

Constantin Floros is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Hamburg. A prolific writer on diverse subjects, he has published monographs on Mahler, Brahms, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Ligeti, and Berg, as well as books about early medieval notation, the semantics of music, love in music, and New Music. He was elected to the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2002 , received an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens and, in 2005, a Golden Honorary Diploma from the University of Vienna.

Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and English at Indiana University. A specialist in English and European Romanticism, he has worked as a translator since his retirement; his translations include radio plays, essays and articles on art and current affairs, and poetry.


"When, on December 23, 1935, Alban Berg died of blood poisoning at the age of 50 in a hospital in Vienna, few would have guessed that 50 years later he would be reckoned among the classics of the New Music. . . . The international music world is deeply interested in both his work and his personality. This is no surprise, considering that nearly his entire oeuvre is autobiographically determined." —from the introduction

". . . anyone interested in Berg simply must buy this book." —Philip Borg-Wheeler,
Classical Music , April 6, 2009

". . . an installment in the still growing literature on Berg's affair with Hanna Fuchs-Robettin and the incoporation of its details into his music, especially the
Lyric Suite." —Bryan Simms, University of Southern California, Notes , Vol. 65.3 March 2009

"Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch's translations of the letters, and indeed of the whole book could hardly be bettered. Not only does he have a good sense of what goes well in English but he shows a real sensitivity to Berg's epistolary style." —Nick Chadwick, Oxford,
Music & Letters , Vol. 90.3 August 2009

". . . the translator copes as resourcefully with Berg's epistolary effusions as with the Baudelaire/George poems used in the
Lyric Suite and the concert aria Der Wein . . . ." —Peter Palmer, Autumn 2009

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Table of Contents

Note on Translation

1. The "Matter of Hanna Fuchs"
2. Inventory and Chronology of the Official Correspondence and the Secret Letters
3. Alban Berg's Correspondence with Hanna and Herbert Fuchs-Robettin
4. The History of an Unhappy Love
5. The Lyric Suite
6. "Whom Else Does It Concern but You . . .": Autobiographical Elements in the Concert Aria Der Wein
Afterword: Hanna and Helene

Appendix: Two Letters by Theodore W. Adorno to Helene Berg
Selected Bibliography
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