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You might be thinking to yourself that this academically interesting information doesn’t really enhance the musical experience for listeners. But all of these secret symbols led people to look closer at the story running through the Violin Concerto. If Berg was hiding 10s and 23s, what else was he hiding?
Remember that yodelling Carinthian folktune which occurs prominently in both Parts? Berg was careful to cover any traces of the original source of the melody, but researchers unearthed it, and it turned out to have some pretty risque lyrics. “A bird on a plum tree has wakened me, Otherwise I would have overslept in Mizzi’s bed. If everyone wants a rich and handsome girl, Where ought the devil take the ugly one? The girl is Catholic and I am Protestant. She will surely put away the rosary in bed!” Berg’s pet name for Manon Gropius was “Mutzi,” meaning “beautiful.” Musicologists initially reasoned that Berg had suppressed these lyrics because they were inappropriate for the innocent Manon. As it turned out, Berg tried to hide the source of the song because it was all too revealing of a different young girl. When Berg was 17, he had fathered a child with a girl named Marie Scheuchl who worked in the kitchen of his family’s Carinthian vacation home. Because of social custom, he was never able to have a relationship with his illegitimate daughter, Albine. Marie’s nickname? Mitzi! Suddenly, we discover that the first part of the concerto is simultaneously remembering and describing Manon and another young girl from long ago. Furthermore, Berg’s affection for Alma Mahler’s daughter undoubtedly existed to fill the void left by his own.
The Violin Concerto turned out to be the last work that Berg ever composed. He died of a bee sting before ever hearing the premiere. Thus, the first performance of the concerto, although intended as a requiem for Manon Gropius, turned out to be a requiem for Berg himself. Did he have a premonition of his death that affected the writing of the dramatic second part of the concerto? The facts are compelling. “AB”s and “23”s occur at key moments during the unfolding of the tragedy in the third movement. For example, the death-march begins at the 23rd measure. The Bach Chorale of movement four is especially interesting. It comes from Bach’s Cantata #60 of 1732, Dialogue between Fear and Hope. “It is enough! Lord, when it pleases Thee, Relieve me of my yoke! My Jesus comes: So goodnight now, O world! I’m going to my Heavenly home. I’ll surely journey there in peace, My great distress will stay below. It is enough. It is enough.” With these words, it seems out of place that Berg would indicate to the musicians to play amorously, dolorous, decided, sweet, resolute. He indicates amorously again and again when the chorale theme appears. If we think of this music as looking towards Berg’s own death, we realize that by dying he will join his beloved Hanna Fuchs in the afterlife. Our theory gains momentum when a prominent “ABHF” occurs right at the moment of transfiguration at the end of the concerto.
So now we have two stories superimposed: a requiem for Manon, and an autobiographical account of Berg’s own life.

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