Berger, Roman

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Berger, Roman

Berger, Roman, Slovak composer and writer on music; b. Cieszyn, Poland, Aug. 9, 1930. He was the son of an evangelical pastor. His youth was disrupted by the Nazi attack on Poland in 1939, and he later was sent to the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Following his liberation at the end of World War II, he entered the State Higher School of Music in Katowice in 1945. In 1952 he and his family were forced to leave Poland, and they settled in Bratislava, where he studied piano (graduated, 1956) and composition (graduated, 1965) at the Academy of Music and Drama. He also worked at the Cons, there until 1966. In 1967–68 he was secretary of the composers’ section of the Union of Slovak Composers. From 1969 to 1971 he worked in the dept. of theory at the Academy of Music and Drama, but then was expelled from the Union of Slovak Composers and was left unemployed. In 1980 he was able to find employment in the Art History Inst. of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. However, his theoretical writings led him to be classified as a dissident and subjected to harassment by the Communist authorities. With the collapse of the Communist regime in the wake of the “Velvet Revolution” in 1989, he served as a member of the advisory board of the Ministry of Culture until 1991, the year he left his position at the Slovak Academy of Sciences. In 1967 he received the Ján Levoslav Bella Prize for composition, in 1967 the prize and in 1990 the diploma of the Czechoslovak Music Critics for composition, and in 1988 the Herder Prize of the Univ. of Vienna for his compositions and writings on theory. His works are formally well disciplined, melodically atonal, and harmonically complex.


DRAMATIC: Stage music and film scores. ORCH Suite in the Old Style (1963–78); Transformation (1965); Memento (1973). CHAMBER: Romance for Violin and Piano (1960); Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1962); Convergencies I for Violin (1969), II for Viola (1970), and III for Cello (1975); Violin Sonata (1983); Adagio (No. 1) for Jan Branny (1987), No. 2, Repentance (1988–89), and No. 3 (1988, 1994) for Violin and Piano. KEYBOARD: Piano: Frafflsifl quasi una sonata (1955); 3 Inventions(1959–61); Sonata 1960 (1960); Suite (1961); Sonata da camera (1971); Inventions II, 10 studies (1987–90); November-Music I (1989). Organ: Exodus II (1981) and IV-Finale (1982). VOCAL: Lullaby for Mezzo-soprano and Chamber Orch. (1962); In the Silence so Dearly Redeemed for Chorus (1962); Black and Red for Chorus and Percussion (1967); Litany to Trees for Men’s Chorus (1975); De profundis for Bass, Piano, Cello, and Live Electronics (1980); Wiegenlied for Alto and Piano (1992). Electroacoustic: Elegy in memoriam Jan Rúíka (1969); En passant (1970); Epitaph for Mikuláš Kopernik (1972); Transgressus I (1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire