Arthur Berger (composer)

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Arthur Victor Berger (May 15, 1912 – October 7, 2003) was an American composer and music critic who has been described as a New Mannerist. [1]



Born in New York City, of Jewish descent, [2] Berger studied as an undergraduate at New York University, during which time he joined the Young Composer's Group, as a graduate student under Walter Piston at Harvard, and with Nadia Boulanger and at the Sorbonne under a Paine Fellowship.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university spread throughout the world. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, New York City. As a global university, students can graduate from its degree-granting campuses in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as well as study at its 12 academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

Walter Piston American composer, music theorist and professor of music

Walter Hamor Piston Jr,, was an American composer of classical music, music theorist, and professor of music at Harvard University.

He taught briefly at Mills College and Brooklyn College, then worked briefly at the New York Sun and then for a longer period of time at the New York Herald Tribune . In 1953 he left the paper to teach at Brandeis University where he was eventually named the Irving Fine Professor Emeritus. His notable students there included Gustav Ciamaga and Richard Wernick. He taught occasionally at the New England Conservatory during his retirement.

Mills College liberal arts and sciences college located in Oakland

Mills College is a private liberal arts and sciences college in Oakland, California. Mills was founded as the Young Ladies Seminary in 1852 in Benicia, California. The school was relocated to Oakland, California, in 1871, and became the first women's college west of the Rockies. Currently, Mills is an undergraduate women's college with graduate programs for students of all genders. In 2014, Mills became the first single-sex college in the U.S. to adopt an admission policy explicitly welcoming transgender students.

Brooklyn College senior college of the City University of New York, located in Brooklyn

Brooklyn College is a college of the City University of New York, located in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City.

<i>New York Herald Tribune</i> newspaper

The New York Herald Tribune was a newspaper published between 1924 and 1966. It was created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald. It was widely regarded as a "writer's newspaper" and competed with The New York Times in the daily morning market. The paper won at least nine Pulitzer Prizes during its lifetime.

He co-founded (with Benjamin Boretz), in 1962, Perspectives of New Music , which he edited until 1964. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1971. [3] He wrote the first book on Aaron Copland (reprinted 1990, Da Capo Press), and coined the terms octatonic scale and pitch centricity in his "Problems of Pitch Organization in Stravinsky". He died in Boston, Massachusetts, age 91.

Perspectives of New Music is a peer-reviewed academic journal specializing in music theory and analysis. It was established in 1962 by Arthur Berger and Benjamin Boretz.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences United States honorary society and center for independent policy research

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It is devoted to the advancement and study of the key societal, scientific, and intellectual issues of the day.

Aaron Copland American composer, composition teacher, writer, and conductor

Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later a conductor of his own and other American music. Copland was referred to by his peers and critics as "the Dean of American Composers". The open, slowly changing harmonies in much of his music are typical of what many people consider to be the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit. He is best known for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as "populist" and which the composer labeled his "vernacular" style. Works in this vein include the ballets Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid and Rodeo, his Fanfare for the Common Man and Third Symphony. In addition to his ballets and orchestral works, he produced music in many other genres, including chamber music, vocal works, opera and film scores.


His works show a preoccupation with vertical and horizontal musical space (see pitch space). His musical influences include Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and later Anton Webern. In the forties he composed neoclassical works including Serenade Concertante (1944) and Three Pieces for Strings (1945), and embraced the twelve-tone technique in the 1950s. His later works moved away from serialism but continued to use tone cluster 'cells' whose pitch classes are displaced by octaves. George Perle has described his "keen and sophisticated musical intellect" and praised "his serial music [for being] as far removed from current fashionable trends as his diatonic music was a few years ago."[ citation needed ]

Pitch space

In music theory, pitch spaces model relationships between pitches. These models typically use distance to model the degree of relatedness, with closely related pitches placed near one another, and less closely related pitches placed farther apart. Depending on the complexity of the relationships under consideration, the models may be multidimensional. Models of pitch space are often graphs, groups, lattices, or geometrical figures such as helixes. Pitch spaces distinguish octave-related pitches. When octave-related pitches are not distinguished, we have instead pitch class spaces, which represent relationships between pitch classes. Chordal spaces model relationships between chords.

Igor Stravinsky Russian-born composer

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

Arnold Schoenberg Austrian-American composer

Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg was an Austrian, and later American, composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Schoenberg's works were labeled degenerate music, because they were modernist and atonal. He immigrated to the United States in 1934.

Perle further praises his String Quartet: "in the quartet, as in Berger's earlier works, and in most of the great music of our Western heritage, timbre, texture, dynamics, rhythm, and form are elements of a musical language whose syntax and grammar are essentially derived from pitch relations. If these elements never seem specious and arbitrary, as they do with so many of the dodecaphonic productions that deluge us today from both the left and right, it is precisely because of the authenticity and integrity of his musical thinking at this basic level." [4]

His works include Ideas of Order, Polyphony, Quartet for Winds, described by Thomson as "one of the most satisfactory pieces for winds in the whole modern repertory", String Quartet (1958), Five Pieces for Piano (1969) and Septet (1965–66). He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Berger is grouped in the "Boston school" along with Lukas Foss, Irving Fine, Alexei Haieff, Harold Shapero, and Claudio Spies.

Related Research Articles

Tonic (music) tonal center of a diatonic scale

In music, the tonic is the first scale degree of a diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone that is commonly used in the final cadence in tonal classical music, popular music and traditional music. The triad formed on the tonic note, the tonic chord, is thus the most significant chord in these styles of music. More generally, the tonic is the pitch upon which all other pitches of a piece are hierarchically referenced. Scales are named after their tonics, thus the tonic of the scale of C is the note C.

In very much conventionally tonal music, harmonic analysis will reveal a broad prevalence of the primary harmonies: tonic, dominant, and subdominant, and especially the first two of these.

Atonality musical structure; music that lacks a tonal center, or key

Atonality in its broadest sense is music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality, in this sense, usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale function independently of one another. More narrowly, the term atonality describes music that does not conform to the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. "The repertory of atonal music is characterized by the occurrence of pitches in novel combinations, as well as by the occurrence of familiar pitch combinations in unfamiliar environments".

Milton Babbitt American composer

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Irving Gifford Fine was an American composer. Fine's work assimilated neoclassical, romantic, and serial elements. Composer Virgil Thomson described Fine's "unusual melodic grace" while Aaron Copland noted the "elegance, style, finish and...convincing continuity" of Fine's music.

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  1. John Mac Ivor Perkins, "Arthur Berger: The Composer as Mannerist", Perspectives of New Music 5, no. 1 (Autumn–Winter, 1966), pp.75-92; citation on p.76. Reprinted in Perspectives on American Composers, edited by Benjamin Boretz and Edward T. Cone,[ page needed ] The Perspectives of New Music Series; Norton Library, no. 549 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971): p.231.
  2. Robert Morse Crunden (2000). Body & Soul: The Making of American Modernism, p.42-3. ISBN   978-0-465-01484-2.
  3. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  4. (1980). "Liner notes: Form Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine .",; accessed 22 November 2015.

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