Wozzeck (mountain)

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Opera dates
Title: Wozzeck
Poster of a performance in Oldenburg in 1974

Poster of a performance in Oldenburg in 1974

Shape: Opera in three acts
Original language: German
Music: Alban Berg
Literary source: Woyzeck by
Georg Büchner
Premiere: December 14, 1925
Place of premiere: State Opera Unter den Linden
Playing time: approx. 1 ½ hours
Place and time of the action: At the beginning of the 19th century
in a small garrison town

Wozzeck is an opera in three acts with 15 scenes by Alban Berg . The libretto is based on the German-language drama fragment Woyzeck by Georg Büchner . There is an opera of the same name on the same subject by Manfred Gurlitt . The playing time is around 90 minutes.

Origin of the opera

In 1914 Alban Berg saw Büchner's drama on the stage of the Wiener Kammerspiele with Albert Steinrück in the title role and began work on the opera in 1915. In 1917 Berg completed the dramaturgical installation.

At first he only had texts available that go back to the 1879 edition by Karl Emil Franzos entitled "Wozzeck". This represents a processing in which - in addition to the necessary definition of a scene sequence - sentences were left out, changed and even freely added. It was not until November 1919, after the first act and scene II / 2 had been completed, that Berg read a recently published article by Georg Witkowski who criticized this text. Berg's own edition, which is strictly source-oriented, but also afflicted with reading errors, was probably available to Berg in the summer of 1921, as well as a further improved edition by Insel-Verlag. Because of the connection between text and music, he decided to stick to the outdated text completely and discreetly made this clear by keeping the spelling “Wozzeck”. However, he tried to bring lost meanings of Büchner's play back to opera on music.

The opera was finished in October 1921. The performance of three excerpts in 1924 led to its first public success. The opera went to press in 1925 with financial support from Alma Mahler-Werfel , Gustav Mahler's widow . Alban Berg dedicated the opera to her out of gratitude. The premiere took place on December 14, 1925 under the direction of Erich Kleiber in the State Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin .

Historical background

Both the drama fragment by G. Büchner and the operas by A. Berg and M. Gurlitt are based on the historical figure of Johann Christian Woyzeck , whom they made an antihero .

J. C. Woyzeck was one of the first offenders to be tested for sanity. The results of the investigation by Johann Christian August Clarus were sane, Woyzeck was sentenced to death and executed on August 27, 1824 in Leipzig. He is believed to have suffered from depression , schizophrenia , paranoia and depersonalization .

Plot and musical forms

Wozzeck is set in a small garrison town at the beginning of the 19th century.

The opera is based on a carefully worked out structure. Each of the three acts has its own musical form, tied to the dramaturgical meaning; the scenes are linked with brief musical transitions. Without the beginning of an overture , on the other hand, the singing part begins in the 5th bar of the first scene.

Act One - Five Character Pieces

Berg uses five character pieces to introduce the five main characters alongside Wozzeck .

Scene 1 - Suite ( Prelude , Pavane , Cadence , Gigue , Cadence, Gavotte -Double I / II, Air , Prelude in Crab ):
Wozzeck and the Captain -
the Captain's room, early in the morning
Wozzeck is at the Captain's service. The captain entangles Wozzeck in a conversation about time and eternity, virtue and morality and reproaches him for his illegitimate child. Wozzeck refers to the Bible ("Let the little ones come to me") and explains that existential need and virtue are incompatible: "We poor people!"

2nd scene - Rhapsody over three chords and three-stanza hunter's song:
Wozzeck and Andres . Free field (the city in the distance), late afternoon
Wozzeck works with his comrade Andres. While Andres motivates himself positively with a hunter's song, Wozzeck sees through that human society produces cruelties and perversions to which the weak are at the mercy: "The place is cursed!"

3rd scene - military march and lullaby:
Marie, Margret and the child; later Wozzeck - Mariens Stube, in the evening
Marie enjoys the passing parade, led by the attractive drum major. She is reminded of her situation by the mockery and resentment of her neighbor Margret: “You have a small child and no man!” Wozzeck comes to Marie. He looks rushed, disturbed by threatening visions, hardly notices Marie and his child.

4th scene - Passacaglia (or Chaconne ) as a twelve-tone theme with 21 variations:
Wozzeck and the doctor - the doctor's study, sunny afternoon
Wozzeck makes himself available to the doctor as a study object for medical experiments - of necessity, for a small additional income.
The theme only functions as an abstract series in relation to the corresponding part, in which the octave position and tone duration are free. The rest of the expressive tone setting is largely independent of this.

5th scene - Andante affettuoso quasi Rondo :
Marie and the drum major - Street in front of
Marie's apartment, dusk Marie is proud that the
drum major is wooing her. She gives in to her longing and her own desire for happiness.

Second act - symphony in five movements

The second act depicts the dramatic development of the plot, for which Alban Berg uses a symphony in five movements as a large form.

1st scene - sonata movement (exposition (main, side, final movement), 1st recapitulation, development, 2nd recapitulation):
Marie and child; later Wozzeck - Mariens Stube, morning, sunshine
Marie is delighted with the jewelry that the drum major gave her. The child bothers them in their dreams of a better life. When Wozzeck suddenly turns up, Marie tries to justify possession of the jewelry and to dispel his suspicions. Wozzeck gives Marie his wages and the extra income from the captain and the doctor.

2nd scene - fantasy and fugue on three themes:
captain and doctor; later Wozzeck - street in the city, day
The doctor, well trained, and the captain, overwhelmed by his speed, enter into a conversation in the course of which the doctor frightens the captain with an invented diagnosis of his state of health. Wozzeck, who happens to be hurrying by, becomes the target of their mutual ridicule. With allusions to Marie's relationship with the drum major, they upset Wozzeck: “I'm a poor devil! Have nothing else in this world! "

Scene 3 - Largo :
Marie and Wozzeck - Street in front of Maria's apartment, cloudy day
Marie provocatively answers Wozzeck's urgent question about the drum major. Wozzeck feels that he is losing his last hold: "Man is an abyss, it makes you dizzy when you look down ..."

4th scene - Scherzo (Scherzo I ( LÄNDER ), Trio I (barrel organ song of the 2nd handicraft boy ), Scherzo II ( waltz ), Trio II (boys' choir and Lied des Andres), Scherzo I (Länders varied), Trio I (song varies for the sermon of the 2nd craft boy), Scherzo II (waltz with development)):
Volk, two craft boy, Andres, drum major, Marie; later Wozzeck; at the end the fool -
tavern garden, late in the evening in the tavern people drink, sing and dance. Two craftsmen advertise the drum major. Wozzeck sees Marie dancing tightly with the drum major. The fool in the form of the captain appears to Wozzeck and prophesies: "I smell, I smell blood!"

5th scene - Rondo martiale con Introduzione:
Sleeping men, Wozzeck, Andres; later the drum major - guardroom in the barracks,
Wozzeck finds no rest at night . The drum major humiliates Wozzeck by bragging about the conquest of Mary and having him beat up.

Third act - six inventions

The scenes in the third act are focused on the murder. Berg used independent pieces again.

1st scene - Invention on a theme (theme, 7 variations and fugue):
Marie with the child - Maria's room, night, candlelight
This scene introduces a retarding moment : Marie regrets her betrayal of Wozzeck. She desperately seeks solace in the Bible. She tells her child a bitter fairy tale: Man is alone in the world, without refuge.

2nd scene - Invention via a tone (H):
Wozzeck and Marie - forest path by the pond, it is getting dark
Wozzeck kills Marie.

3rd scene - Invention using a rhythm:
Volk, Wozzeck and Margret - tavern, night, weak light
Wozzeck seeks to be forgotten in the inn. He's dancing with Margret. Margret discovers blood on him - he is exposed as a murderer.

Scene 4 - Invention about a six-tone:
Wozzeck, later a doctor and captain - forest path by the pond, moonlit night
Wozzeck searches in vain for the knife to cover up the crime. He goes further into the pond and drowns. Doctor and captain pass by.

Orchestral interlude in D minor - Invention via one key
Many of the opera's motifs are brought together and processed again, right up to Wozzeck's transfiguration .

5th scene - Invention of an eighth movement:
Marie's child, children - street in front of
Marie's apartment, bright morning, sunshine
Marie's child tries to play with the father. Other children tell him that his mother is dead too.

The libretto: dramatic intensification of a descriptive sequence of scenes

Berg's dramatization of the text in the French edition

Modern literary studies see Büchner's loose connection of individual scenes as a stylistic feature that he would not have given up at the end of the drama. A picture of social reality should emerge in many facets. Berg, on the other hand, selected scenes and arranged them so that an exciting, coherent plot resulted. He summarized - going back to the French - several scenes for the guardroom scene II / 5 and adopted sentences or the "daughter" song in the pub garden scene II / 5. He also cut short within the scenes. The result was a classic three-act drama with exposition , periphery and catastrophe . The plot elements related to the murder dominate, which can be classified into four groups:

  1. Aggression against Wozzeck
  2. Infidelity to Wozzeck
  3. Wozzeck's madness
  4. Wozzeck's aggressions

Berg identified with Wozzeck based on his experiences in World War I :

“There is also a piece of me in his figure since I was just as dependent on hated people, bound, sickly, unfree, resigned, even humiliated, and spent these war years. Without this military service I would be healthy as before. "

He suffered from severe asthma , but was sometimes declared fit for duty on charges of simulation. The replacement of “piss” by “cough” in scene I / 4 is certainly due to this, not to the avoidance of naturalistic coarseness. He works against such a tendency in the French edition in other places, as far as possible: He writes out “Altweiberf-z” and then takes over from Büchner's original “The woman is hot! is hot! hot!". In letters he complained about beans and Schöpsenfleisch as unacceptable components of the Austrian army generation and therefore allowed himself to slightly modify the diet of peas and mutton prescribed by Büchner Wozzeck.

Apart from that, Berg leaves the Büchner text available to him untouched. He only uses stage directions to set accents, autobiographical ones with many allusions to the captain's breathing difficulties, which are also composed in a separate group of motifs. In field scene I / 2 he contrasts Wozzeck's fire vision with an impressive sunset that Andres only hinted at. The moderating tendency of the French edition is corrected when Andres also turns over and falls asleep in the rowdy scene II / 5. So Wozzeck's abandonment becomes comprehensive.

Franzos' tendentious processing of the Büchner text

While Berg shows no tendency to leave out uncomfortable content, Franzos' arrangements are more important in terms of content. At Büchner, Woyzeck ponders the world around him, but does not reflect on himself. Society emerges as an active collective rather than himself. Franzos' Wozzeck, on the other hand, is aware of his actions. In the study room scene I / 4, Franzos adds “Because the menage money goes to the woman” with “That's why I do it!”. In the murder scene, he inserts the words “pious”, “good”, “loyal”, “may” and “must”, which express an orientation towards norms. The “murderer!” Call of Wozzeck, internalizing the objective identification, was also supplemented by the French in the scene of drowning. With the rider's song in the pub scene III / 3, he replaces the “maid” song, which refers to Marie as a prostitute, with the depiction of a girl's murder (which is further elaborated in the French bank song).

Büchner's Woyzeck also uses many biblical quotations, but is not religious and does not pray - “and do not lead us into temptation, Amen!” In the barracks scene I / 5 is secondary, as is “God in Heaven” in II / 1, together with it flattening cuts. But this exclamation forms the dome of the complicated joint architecture, which shows particularly clearly that Berg was tied to Franzos' text. Through the association with Mk 15.34  EU, the exclamation brings the tormentor scene in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus , while Büchner reflects the sadisms of the doctor and captain with almost protocol coldness.

Other figures were not changed as much by the French. In Bible scene III / 1, however, instead of the fool Marie, a harmless fairy tale that no longer predicts the catastrophe is told: the motif of the kidnapping and the line "Black pudding says: come liver sausage!" In addition, Franzos cannot stand Marie's rejection of the child - he inserts "No, come, come here!" In the quotation from Lk 7.36-50 EU relating  to Mary Magdalene , the “impious” exclamation “Everything is dead!” Is deleted, which in its nihilism recalls “It is all one” from the seduction scene. Finally, Franzos adds to Marie's express request for mercy. Overall, Marie appears in this scene as a repentant, cleansed sinner, while in Büchner she has a contradicting character. The child is given additional weight with Franzos, as in the last scene, for example, not two children tell the murder, but three address Marie's and Wozzeck's son directly. This figure, too, is deprived of its ambivalence by deleting a scene from the “Scattered Fragments” in which the child turns away from Wozzeck.

Berg's musical implementation of "Wozzeck"

In Wozzeck, Berg used all the musical means available at his time, such as atonality (even if he rejected the term) and pre-forms of the twelve-tone technique to trace the plot of Büchner's original. In this way, he creates an emotional and social drama that is often exaggerated in an expressionist manner . In order to create an even broader spectrum of musical means beyond the exemption from major and minor scales, he sets up a second orchestra in addition to the large orchestra in the trench (with multiple wind instruments, large percussion apparatus and unusual additional instruments such as rod and bombardon) as incidental music. The treatment of the singing voice is also unusually differentiated, as it prescribes several intermediate stages between the spoken and sung word, e.g. B. spoken, but rhythmically fixed etc. A special role is played by the so-called “ rhythmic declamation ”, an exact notation of rhythmically and intermittently fixed spoken chants, which Berg's teacher Arnold Schönberg and others. a. had used in his Pierrot lunaire .

Berg uses musical forms from the baroque to the late romantic . The underlying formal rigor is hardly apparent to the listener, however, but only becomes apparent from studying the score. Berg himself attached great importance to ensuring that the perception of the underlying musical forms such as Passacaglia, Suite etc. does not disturb concentration on the plot. The use of these forms rather serves the formal security in the atonal, irregular space.

Topics, motifs and leitmotifs

In addition to their processing in the relevant scene, many musical themes are also used as leitmotifs in other scenes of the opera. Both result in a level of meaning that interprets the text and goes beyond the direct musical expression.

Resistance and self-abandonment

Beginning of the Air: superimposition of three leitmotifs.

An example is the air of the first scene of the first act (I / 1), in which the basic message of the entire opera is concentrated in the first two bars. Wozzeck defends himself in the form of a generalized indictment against the captain's accusation that he had "a child without the blessing of the church". The first four notes of the singing voice represent the main motif of the opera:

\ relative c '{\ tempo 2 = 26 \ clef bass r8 dis-- b - [e, -] g4--} \ addlyrics {We poor people!  }

It is also quoted in scene II / 1 (often in a chordal version of the minor form “I am a poor guy!” From I / 1 bar 148), also in the rowdy scene II / 5 and in the orchestral epilogue.

At the same time, the “Wozzeck / soldier rhythm” introduced in I / 1 bar 25/26 on “Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!” Appears in the bass. In addition to economic oppression, he refers to the military hierarchy as another one of the “structures of power that Wozzeck is integrated into.” The strings as a whole lead the first twelve-tone third chord C sharp EGBDF-A-B-E-flat-Ges- as an ascending arpeggio. AC a. Theoretically only four such twelve-tone chords made up of minor and major thirds are possible . Berg uses all of them in this scene, as well as the first in II / 1 bar 115 and III / 4-5 bar 364. Such a narrow chord system is unique in his opera. Peter Petersen sees it as an indication of an exclusive social structure that is dominated by a few. It is broken through for the first time at the thunder of the sky at the end of the air by doubling the E in the 3rd chord (BDF-As-CEGH-Dis-F sharp-A-C sharp). At the end of the transition to I / 1-2 bars 198-200, the 4th chord (A-C sharp-F-A-flat-CEGH-D flat-F sharp-BD) has ten non-integrable notes. Together with Berg's comment “the straightening up” on the presentation of the first twelve-tone third chord, and the text of the proletarians who “help thunder” in heaven, Petersen sees in this scene, especially the two bars analyzed, a clear indication of destruction and revolt .

Even if Marie sings a varied reversal of the main motif in II / 1 bar 79 , she does not take any perspective outside of herself. In I / 3 bar 467 she sings “Wir poor people!” On her own motive for lamentation expressing individual suffering. In personal strength she resists sexual assaults by her father, Wozzeck (both II / 3 bar 395ff.) And initially also by the drum major. At the end of scene I / 5, however, she gives in to this out of desperation about her entire situation (“All right, it's all one!”). With a bass sequence over 12 tones downwards, musically "she loses the ground under her feet."

In this, the stage character of Wozzeck is equal to her. Only at the beginning does he find support in rising social criticism. Apocalyptic visions and misunderstood signs hold him captive, he gets mad about Marie's infidelity - and goes under in the water of the pond. While the long-held "field chords" of I / 2 still give rise to the beginnings of a melody, Wozzeck is in the penultimate scene entirely in the - often resolved - "pond chord"

 {\ new PianoStaff << \ new Staff {\ clef violin << {cis'1} \\ {bes1} \\ {e'1} \\ {gis'1} \\ {f''1} \\ { es''1} >>} >>}

self-conscious, loses its identity. The vertical dominates over horizontal movement.

Science and madness

The "line circles" section in I / 4, cycle 561.

This loss of signs of nature stands in contrast to the doctor's pursuit of ruthless mastery of nature. Berg makes this clear in a single measure, the 12th variation of the Passacaglia. The theme representing the doctor in his erudition appears in the trumpet with a clearly structured abbreviation : 4/4 + 4/8 + 4/16. This concludes his rational system, and fugal entries in oboe and bassoon emphasize its self-reference.

The remaining voices take up Wozzeck's circling, whole-tone melody movement in wandering imagination, also a leitmotif: "Circles of lines ... figures ... Who could read this!" The irregular reduction here also extends to the omission of tones and the pitch of corresponding voices. It could be continued almost indefinitely. “Wozzeck's open system shows the way into the irrational”, but also enables a sensitivity for suppressed contradictions and violence.

Wozzeck's personal topic

While the “we poor people” leitmotif represents Wozzeck in his social role and reflecting on it, another topic characterizes him personally as a man. It is introduced in II / 1 bar 273 and is the third theme of the subsequent triple fugue. The upper part is

 {\ clef bass \ time 4/4 \ times 2/3 {db'4-> db'4-- cis'4-- cis'4-> b4-- b4--} \ times 2/3 {r8 a8 (a8-> f8 as2) r2}}

but the other parts of the homophonic trumpet setting are also performed. Berg notes in his sketchbook “the fatalist” on the subject. Analogous to Wozzeck's psychological disruption, the theme is completely deformed up to the end of the fugue.

At the end of the D minor adagio, which combines many leitmotifs, the theme appears hymn-like with songs. It is upbeat with ties , fortissimo , and a single tonic chord (FADE) is performed in parallel in all instrument groups . This creates an organ-like sound and emphasizes the upper part. Berg saw this epilogue as his confession. Here Wozzeck is "transfigured into an emotionally animated, free and strong person" that he could have been. Petersen thinks that such an idealistic display of sympathy was completely alien to Büchner. He aimed at political change.

Wozzeck chord and other motifs

The last chord of the "Wozzeck / Mann theme" is the transposition of the Wozzeck typical chord d 7 , the main motif its dissolution, initially on the E level. The 3rd field chord from I / 2, a on, is derived from this chord Jealousy-related “Wozzeck / paranoid motif”, which in 1/32 notes resembles “a nervous twitch or an irritated look” (I / 3 bar 427, 454 and three other scenes), and the tonic chord of D minor -Adagios. Among other motifs independent of the Wozzeck chord, Berg highlights in his sketchbook “the indignant” (in II / 3) and “E flat minor, the resigned” (without notes). The proposed baritone voice reflects the complex character of Wozzeck . Wozzeck motifs are often assigned to the trombone as an instrument, and in bar II / 5 754-756 his singing voice is closely linked to the trombone. Berg gives his main character grandeur and grandeur.

The character Marie

The "Marie / Bible theme" in scene III / 1 as the basis of the 7 variations and - in a version derived from Cancer - as the theme of the final fugue.
The three parallel “Marie / Regret themes” in III / 1, bars 7-9. The first, modified also used in the fugue, is played by the violins. The second occurs in the bass instruments. The third is divided between the trumpets and clarinets. Its end in bar 8 is also the shortening of the "repentance motif" sung by Marie in parallel.

Marie is assigned a "latent diatonic" chord that expresses folklore and a relation to nature. It comprises the 4th to 7th level of the variant CGDAEHF of the circle of fifths, which is limited to the diatonic scale by the diminished fifth HF :

 {\ new PianoStaff << \ new Staff {<< \ clef violin {f'1} \\ {a'1} \\ {b'1} \\ {e''1} >>} >>}

Derived from this are the “fateful fifths”, the lamentation motif mentioned above, the lullaby in I / 3, the “jewelry theme”, the “1. Tavern chord ”of the ostinato in II / 4 and the“ repentance motif ”in III / 1 (“ Don't look at me! ”).

This scene is in the form of a set of variations with a fugue. The partially common theme characterizes in its first part rather objective Bible verses or descriptions from the fairy tale of the lonely, poor child. The second part expresses Marie's subjective reactions in three simultaneous themes: remorse, reaction to her child and desperation of the child in the fairy tale.

The scene as well as the lamenting elements in I / 3 contrast with the life-thirsty side of Marie, which is particularly shown in the Andante affettuoso of scene I / 5. The main theme introduced with the transformation and the climbing melody derived from it express erotic passion. The secondary theme presented at the same time by the clarinet is melodically winding and can be understood as an expression of conflicting feelings. The falling closing melody (“… proud in front of all women”, at the same time free enlargements in the orchestra and hymn-like closing bars 709–714) makes sexual devotion clear. The theme reappears when Wozzeck alludes to Marie's infidelity: in II / 3, II / 4 and in the murder scene in a variant that is also related to the drum major motif (introduced at the end of the transformation to I / 5) .

The lullaby is recorded at the end of the opera: the boy sings “Hopp, hopp!” On his characteristic fourth. After the last time (bars 386ff.), Clarinet, viola, trumpet, then violin vary the first bar of the lullaby before it continues to flow rhythmically and melodically and is led into high registers. The voice and person of the mother disappear in the uniform movement of this scene.


Folk as well as complex rhythms play a major role in the opera, which is evident from the extensive percussion. From the pavane to the military march, Berg uses many forms of dance.

Scene III / 3 is built entirely on one rhythm. In the “brutal directness” of the fff solo of the big drum immediately before the start of the gift-giving scene, it becomes particularly clear that - according to the scenic context - he is supposed to characterize Wozzeck objectively as a murderer. There are different variants and their augmentation as well as a shortening.

 \ drums {bda4 bda4 r8 bda8 bd4 r8 bda4.  bda16 bda16 bda8 r4}

With the accompaniment of the rhythm in the strings, Wozzeck introduces in bar 206f. the question “(Am) I a murderer?” Franzos had deleted the following sentences in his Büchner edition: “What are you gawking at? Look at yourself! ”With this, Wozzeck is returning the murder charge to society. Berg makes this suppressed meaning audibly clear by having Wozzeck sing the remaining question on a horizontal reflection of the “We poor people” theme.

The water movement fades away at the end of scene III / 4, from bar 310. The greatest common time unit of the four short rhythmic patterns in the winds is the 1/32 triplet. In relation to this they have - from top to bottom - the interval ratios 9: 12: 8: 18. The two clarinet parts alone (but slower, not as triplets) show slightly moving water at the beginning of the scene in bars 226–230.

In addition to such profound statements in a network of musical symbols , Berg likes to simply play with rhythm, varying one, shifting the other against the beat or superimposing several. Two examples of the last, polyrhythmic case appear with onomatopoeic intent in pond scene II / 4. To represent the slightly moving (bar 226) or restless water (bars 302-315), two or four simple rhythmic patterns are complexly interlinked and related to the beat differently.

Such shifts of rhythmic, metric and additionally melodic and extended chordal ostinati in II / 4 (pub garden) play an even greater role . An example are the horn arpeggios to be played "blaringly" at the beginning, which move forward by 1/8 triplets compared to the measure. In the Metamorphosis, Berg builds up the most complex, “numerical ostinato”. In five sections from bar 692 rows of 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 notes are combined with rhythmic phrases of 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 eighth notes. The last stage of this system is no longer closed, there is not enough time to return to the starting point of the combination of rhythm and melody. There are also deviations from the numbers of the regular episodes. Petersen again points out that this is how the "eternal cycles", the "God-willed", indifferent and merciless order of the world is represented. The parodic presentation of this metaphysics by the drunken craftspeople corresponds with system breaks at the end. They point to Wozzeck's visions of the end of the world: The continuation of this world is not without risk.


The orchestral line-up for the opera includes the following instruments:

  • Woodwinds : four flutes (also piccolo ), four oboes (4th also English horn ), four clarinets in Bb (1st also clarinet in A, 3rd and 4th also clarinet in Eb), bass clarinet in Bb, three bassoons , contrabassoon
  • Brass : four horns , four trumpets , alto trombone , two tenor trombones, bass trombone, double bass tuba
  • Timpani , percussion : hanging cymbals , cymbals on the big drum , big drum, rod, several small drums , large tam-tam (very low), small tam-tam (very high)
  • xylophone
  • Celesta
  • harp
  • Strings
  • Stage music on the scene: several small drums (I / 2)
  • Military music: flute piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in E flat, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, double bass tuba, percussion (bass drum, cymbals, snare drum, triangle ) (I / 3)
  • Heurigen / tavern music: two fiddles (violins tuned a whole tone higher), clarinet in C, accordion or accordion , guitar , bombardon or bass tuba (II / 4)
  • Piano ( pianino , out of tune) (III / 3)
  • Chamber orchestra: flute (also piccolo), oboe, cor anglais, clarinet in E flat, clarinet, bass clarinet in B flat, bassoon, double bassoon, two horns, violin, viola, cello, double bass (III / 3)

Work history

First occupation

World premiere on December 14, 1925 in Berlin
( Erich Kleiber )
Wozzeck baritone Leo Schützendorf
Marie soprano Sigrid Johanson
Mary's boy Boy soprano Ruth Iris Witting
Captain tenor Waldemar Henke
doctor bass Martin Abendroth
Drum major tenor Fritz Soot
Andres tenor Gerhard Witting
Margret Old Jessyka Koettrik
1. Craftsman bass Ernst Osterkamp
2. Craftsman baritone Alfred Borchardt
fool tenor Marcel Noé
A soldier baritone Leonhard Kern


The premiere production reached a remarkable 20 performances, the opera was then quickly re-enacted on fifteen German stages. This was followed by Prague in 1926, Leningrad in 1927, Vienna and Amsterdam in 1930, and Philadelphia, Zurich and New York in 1931. From 1933 to 1945, the National Socialists prevented all performances in their sphere of influence, the last Wozzeck performances in the German-speaking area took place in late autumn 1932 at the State Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin. Strangely enough, the reception at the international level also experienced a significant slump. Only two productions are known from the following years: In 1934 Wozzeck was performed in concert in London. In 1942 Tullio Serafin conducted the opera in Rome, Tito Gobbi sang the title role (also in the RAI recording from 1954, conducted by Nino Sanzogno).

The name Karl Böhm , who first rehearsed the work as general music director in Darmstadt in 1931 and who tirelessly propagated and directed Wozzeck after the end of the Nazi regime , is inseparably linked to the reception of the Berg Opera in the post-war period . Böhm performed the work in 1949 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, in 1951, 1971 and 1972 at the Salzburg Festival , in the early 1950s at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, in 1955 at the Vienna State Opera , 1959 at the Metropolitan Opera and 1964 at the Deutsche Berlin Opera on the program. He received a Grammy Award for his recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Evelyn Lear and Fritz Wunderlich in 1964, and the Salzburg live recording from 1972 with Walter Berry , Anja Silja and Fritz Uhl also attracted attention .

Erich Kleiber , the premiere conductor, presented the work at the Covent Garden Opera in London in 1952 , while Christel Goltz sang Marie . Famous tenors took on the role of drum major : Max Lorenz in 1955 at the Vienna State Opera, Hans Beirer in 1963 in Berlin. Theo Adam played the title role in 1970 under Carlos Kleiber at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Eberhard Waechter was an intense Wozzeck in Vienna in 1979 , and Franz Grundheber sang the role in the 1980s and 1990s in Vienna and Berlin, among others. In addition to Christel Goltz and Anja Silja, Christa Ludwig , Marilyn Horne , Hildegard Behrens and Waltraud Meier also made a name for themselves as Marie .

Pierre Boulez presented the work in Paris in the 1960s, Claudio Abbado in Milan in the early 1970s - Luca Ronconi staged a river of mud and dirt pouring over the La Scala stage . Recordings have also been made by the conductors Dimitri Mitropoulos (1951), Nino Sanzogno (1954, in Italian), Christoph von Dohnányi (1979), Daniel Barenboim (1994), Ingo Metzmacher (1998), Leif Segerstam (2000), Seiji Ozawa and James Levine (both 2005) and Fabio Luisi (2015).


  • Erich Forneberg: Wozzeck from Alban Berg . Robert Lienau, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-87484-215-0 .
  • Attila Csampai and Dietmar Holland (eds.): Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Texts, materials, comments . Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1985.
  • N. John (Ed.): Wozzeck, Alban Berg . John Calder Publications, London 1990, reprint: Overture Publishing, London 2011.
  • H.-U. Foot: Musical-dramatic processes in Berg's operas . Verlag der Musikalienhandlung, Hamburg / Eisenach 1991.
  • Peter Petersen : Alban Berg, Wozzeck. A semantic analysis including the sketches and documents from Berg's estate. Music Concepts Special Volume, Munich 1985.
  • B. Regulator-Bellinger , W. Schenck, H. Winking: Knaur's great opera leader . Droemer, Munich 1983.
  • Otto Schumann: The great opera and operetta leader . Pawlak, Herrsching 1983, ISBN 3-88199-108-5 .
  • Wolfgang Willaschek: 50 classics of the opera - the most important musical works for the stage . 4th edition, Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-8369-2510-5 .
  • Armin Lücke (Eds.): Franz Grundheber and Wozzeck . Matergloriosa, Trier 2008, ISBN 978-3-940760-05-0 .

Web links

Commons : Wozzeck  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. A semantic analysis including the sketches and documents from Berg's estate. Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, pp. 11–15, 32–40.
  2. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, pp. 211f.
  3. ^ A b Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 65, 71f.
  4. Alban Berg: Briefe , No. 287, p. 376. Quoted from Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, p. 54.
  5. ^ A b Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 54-57, 59-62.
  6. ^ A b Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 37, 41-46.
  7. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, p. 46f.
  8. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. A semantic analysis including the sketches and documents from Berg's estate . Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, p. 99.
  9. ^ A b Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, pp. 102-107.
  10. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, pp. 99, 155f, 164.
  11. a b Lorina Strange: program booklet Wozzeck , Theater Erfurt 2017, p. 11
  12. ^ HE Apostle: Georg Büchner's Wozzeck, full score . Universal Edition, Vienna 1955, pp. 171f.
  13. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Music concepts special volume, Munich 1985, pp. 112–114.
  14. ^ A b Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 115f, 211f.
  15. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 92f, 98f.
  16. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 273, 277.
  17. a b c Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 83ff, 89f, 137f.
  18. Constantin Floros: Alban Berg. Music as an autobiography, Wiesbaden 1992, p. 183.
  19. a b c d Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 158-160.
  20. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 166-169.
  21. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 152, 181.
  22. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, p. 142f.
  23. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 239-241.
  24. Peter Petersen: Alban Berg, Wozzeck. Munich 1985, pp. 229-237.
  25. ^ Rudolf Stephan: Wozzeck. In: Piper's Encyclopedia of Musical Theater . Volume 1: Works. Abbatini - Donizetti. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1986, ISBN 3-492-02411-4 , pp. 279-283.