Biblical Homeschooling, Monthly Meditation, July, 2015

July, 2015

Monthly Meditation


by Wayne S. Walker

     “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).  God brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage, through the wilderness, to enter the promised land.  Israel became a great nation under the reigns of David and Solomon, but afterward the kingdom divided, the people went into apostasy, and they were taken into Babylonian captivity.  Psalm 137 records how some of them, the faithful or the repentant or perhaps both, sat by the rivers of Babylon to weep when they remembered Zion.  They hung their harps on the willows when those who took them captive asked them to sing a song because they could not sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.

When I was a sophomore in high school, we read a short story from our literature book whose title, “By the Waters of Babylon,” seems to have been taken from this Psalm.  It was written by Stephen Vincent Benét and first published on July 31, 1937, in The Saturday Evening Post as “The Place of the Gods.”  In 1943 it was republished under its present title in The Pocket Book of Science Fiction.  At the beginning of the story, set in the future following the destruction of industrial civilization, one might think that it takes place somewhere in the Middle East or North Africa, because the story is about ruins and a great river such as the Euphrates or the Nile. But when the details are examined, the reader comes to see that the story occurs somewhere in the Northeastern United States, with the river Ou-dis-sun (Hudson), a statue that says “ASHING” (George WASHINGton), and a building marked “UBTREAS” (the Subtreasury Building of New York City).  The plot produces a very eerie, almost chilling effect.

Benet evidently was comparing the feelings that the people of this futuristic setting would experience at the destruction of their industrial civilization to the response that the Israelites felt in their captivity following the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  In like manner, when a person is separated from God by sin, there can be no true joy in his life.  However, there is always hope.  The main character is a young man named John who is the son of a priest. The story ends with John stating his conviction that, once he becomes the head priest, “We must build again.”  A remnant of the Israelites returned to Jerusalem that they might rebuild.  And even though we have sinned, “God so loved the world that He have His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Yes!  We too can start over and build again, as we weep “by the waters of Babylon.”

The Odds Against Homeschooling

The Odds Against Homeschooling

  • Timothy Palla
If a husband decides to go back to college at 30 to become a pharmacist—and his wife has to support him and the children for the next decade—he will have praise of the multitudes: “It’ll be tough living on one income, but you can do it. You just hang in there. It will all be worth it.”
If a woman quits her demanding job as a nurse to start a scrapbooking business in the spare bedroom, her friends are green with envy. “It’s your life . . . do what you enjoy. Set your own pace, be independent. Best wishes! Making a living isn’t all about money, it’s about enjoying what you do.”
But let someone say, “I want to homeschool my children,” and a thousand eyebrows may instantly raise. The masses gasp for breath, and counselors crawl out from under every rock to warn of “the dangers” of entertaining such thoughts. Cunningly, the vacuum of doubt attempts to abort the dreams, aspirations, and faith from the hearts of parents who are being called to the road less traveled. Are the odds really against homeschoolers, or are the challenges really part of a higher plan which God uses to manifest His wonderful grace?
Read More:

Ernest Bloch and Schelomo


Ernest Bloch (July 24, 1880 – July 15, 1959) was a 20th-century Swiss-born American composer whose music reflects Jewish cultural and liturgical themes as well as European post-Romantic traditions.  Bloch was born on July 24, 1880, in Geneva, Switzerland, to Jewish parents.  As a youth, he was given flute and violin and began playing the violin at age nine. In his native city, he studied violin with Louis Rey and composition with Emile Jaques-Dalcroze.   He began composing soon after and studied music at the conservatory in Brussels, where his teachers included Francois Rasse and the celebrated Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. He then travelled around Europe, moving to Germany where he studied composition from 1900–1901 at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt with Iwan Knorr, who most influenced the composer’s distinct musical personality.   Bloch went on to Paris in 1903, coming under the influence of the “Young French” movement of Vincent d’Indy and Ernest Chausson, and then back to Geneva.

In 1903 Bloch completed his first Symphony, most of which was performed in Basel at the Festival of German Musicians.  In 1904, he married Margarethe Schneider, and they had a daughter named Suzanne.  Bloch’s interest in the chromatic sonorities of Debussy and Maurice Ravel is evident in the tone poem Hiver-Printemps (1905; Winter-Spring). His single opera Macbeth, in 3 acts, dates from 1909.  It was finally performed in 1910 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, to devastating reviews. In the meantime, Bloch took a job as conductor. In 1915, his second Symphony was only a moderate success.  From 1911 to 1915 he taught at the Geneva Conservatory.  Bloch composed a significant group of works on Jewish themes, among them the Israel Symphony (1916).  He toured the United States in 1916 with the dancer Maud Allen.  The successful premiere by the Boston Symphony of Bloch’s Trois Poemes Juifs conducted by Artur Bodanzky in 1917 encouraged the composer to remain in the United States.

Bloch settled first in New York City, NY, taking American citizenship in 1924. He held several teaching appointments in the U.S., with Leon Kirchner, Randall Thompson, George Antheil, Frederick Jacobi, Quincy Porter, Bernard Rogers, and Roger Sessions among his pupils. In 1917 Bloch became the first teacher of composition at Mannes College’s The New School for Music, a post he held for three years. In December 1920 he was appointed the first Musical Director of the newly formed Cleveland Institute of Music, a post he held until 1925. His suite Baal Shem for violin and piano dates from 1923.  Following this he was director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music until 1930.  His sacred service Avodath Hakodesh for baritone, chorus, and orchestra (1930–33) represents the full maturity of his use of music appropriate to Jewish themes and liturgy.

In 1930 Bloch received a $5000/year grant from the Stern Fund, lasting ten years, during much of which he resided in Switzerland, but returned to America as the Nazi peril became evident, and in 1941 he moved to the small coastal community of Agate Beach, OR, where he lived for the rest of his life. He taught composition and lectured for several summers at the University of California at Berkeley until 1952. A festival in honor of his seventieth birthday was performed in 1950 at Chicago, IL, lasting several days.  Bloch composed actively until an operation for colorectal cancer in August of 1958 left him too weak to continue.  Bloch died on July 15, 1959, in Portland, OR, of colon cancer at the age of 78. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered near his home in Agate Beach.  The Bloch Memorial has been moved from near his house in Agate Beach to a more prominent location at the Newport Performing Arts Center in Newport, Oregon.

Bloch appropriated established and novel musical elements into highly dramatic scores, often influenced by philosophical, poetic, or religious themes.  Bloch’s music reflects many post-Romantic influences, among them the styles of Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, and Richard Strauss.  A masterly composer of music for strings, Bloch wrote four string quartets, Schelomo–A Hebrew Rhapsody for cello and orchestra, and A Voice in the Wilderness for orchestra and cello obbligato, which are deeply emotional works and rank among the most distinguished achievements in the neo-classic and neo-romantic idiom of early twentieth-century music.   Many of Bloch’s works show a strong neoclassical trend, combining musical forms of the past with 20th-century techniques. Examples include his Concerto Grosso No. 1 (1925) and his Quintet for piano and strings (1923), which utilizes quarter tones to colour and heighten the emotional intensity of the music. His other notable works include an “epic rhapsody” for orchestra (America, 1926), the Suite for viola and piano (1919), and five string quartets (1916, 1945, 1952, 1953, 1956).

The following works by Ernest Bloch are contained in my collection:

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Violin Concerto, 1938).

Hebrew Suite for Violin and Orchestra (1951).

Schelomo–Hebrew Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra (1916).

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

The Gay Mafia Wants to Stop You From Doing This

The Gay Mafia Wants to Stop You From Doing This
By: Erick Erickson, July 21st, 2015

There is an organized movement within the gay rights community that is sometimess referred to as the “gay mafia.” They want to harass those who disagree with their agenda and silence any dissent from their agenda. They have worked overtime in the past twenty-four hours because an AP poll shows that the number of Americans who now support gay marriage has declined since the Supreme Court’s ruling and a majority believe Christian businesses should not be compelled to provide goods and services to gay weddings.

They cannot have that. They also cannot have books and data that dispute their claims. One such book is by my friend Ryan Anderson. The book is called Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom. A subgroup of the gay mafia who call themselves “Flying Monkeys” are flinging poo in the direction of Ryan’s book.

In particular, they have organized a campaign to down vote Ryan’s book on The Daily Signal has screenshots of the gay mafia’s online conversations encouraging people to go “review” Ryan’s book and give it one star reviews.


Home School Book Review News for 6/2015

Home School Book Review Blog ( ) is a resource for book reviews, primarily of children’s and youth literature, from a Biblical worldview.

Books reviewed in June of 2015 include:

June 30, 2015–From Sea To Shining Sea: God’s Plan For America Unfolds

June 29, 2015–Hunted: The Riddled Stone, Book 2

June 15, 2015–The Boonsville Bombers

June 14, 2015–The Boy Who Drank Too Much

June 12, 2015–The Christmas Box: 20th Anniversary Edition

June 10–Chloris and the Creeps: Chloris #1

June 9, 2015–Hills of Highland

June 8, 2015–Folklore of Highland County

June 7, 2015–Highland County, Ohio: A Pictorial History Celebrating 200 Years

June 6, 2015–Making a Difference: Florida College the First Fifty Years

June 5, 2015–Leaving a Mark: The Lectures of Phil Roberts

June 2, 2015–If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?

Each month we give out a Book of the Month Award; for June, 2015, it goes to:


Hunted: The Riddled Stone, Book 2, by Teresa Gaskins

The runner-up was The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans

Books that we are currently reading and will be reviewed in the near future include:

Abide in Me by N. A. Woychuk

Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong by William Kirkpatrick

A Land of Heart’s Desire by Joy Pennock Gage

Gladiator: Fight for Freedom by Simon Scarrow

The Boy in the Alamo by Margaret Cousins

Donald Frasure and Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo from Cinderella in the style of Bach


Donald Fraser is a composer, arranger, conductor and recording producer, who is British born but is now a permanent United States resident, living and working from his home outside of Chicago, IL.   Donald began his musical life as a chorister in his local Parish Church and subsequently learned piano and trumpet.  A member of his local youth and community orchestras as both player and conductor, he began composing at age 13 and at 17 entered the Royal College of Music to study composing and conducting.  In his second year he was awarded all five composition prizes, most notably the Cobbett Prize for his first string quartet performed by the then newly formed Chilingirian Quartet.  His principal professors were Humphrey Searle and Alexander Goehr.

Fraser became Resident Composer at the Royal College of Art Film School and began composing for film and television at age 19, while still a student. His first film, for the Shell Film Unit was nominated for a BAFTA (British Film Academy) award.  It was at this time that he composed and co-produced the music theatre work “Why Tears, Achilles?” based on the translations from the Iliad by Christopher Logue.  This was subsequently to become a 3 hour radio drama program for the BBC and revived as “War Music” for the Old Vic Theatre Company. The production toured internationally.  Upon leaving the RCM he worked mainly in film and television as a composer as well as co-producing theatre and film productions. Arranging and record producing for major label record companies soon followed and he was co-creator of Britiish Academy Award winning TV series “Rock Follies/”  Also, he began working with documentary film director Geoffrey Jones in this period, their work garnering many prestigious international awards.

Composing concert music has been a serious and continuing part of Fraser’s output.  This early period saw the completion of many chamber works. A ‘one man show’ of these works was given at the Wigmore Hall sponsored by SONY and performed by the Medici Quartet and Peter Donohoe with the Alexander Ensemble conducted by Lionel Friend.  Other works at this time included “Airs and Graces” commissioned by the ‘Equale Brass’ with Dorothy Tutin and Christopher Logue as narrators, Ancient Chinese Lyrics performed by the English Chamber Orchestra with Teresa Cahill, soprano and the song cycle Cu Chullain! sung by baritone Andrew Golder.   The last two works were given their first performances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room at London’s South Bank arts complex.

Donald purchased The Studio, Bedham near Fittleworth, West Sussex and made the move from London to the English countryside.   EMI Film Division’s “The Season’s” project director Geoffrey Jones saw the beginning of Fraser’s relationship with the English Chamber Orchestra as conductor. In 1984 he also conducted them for the 50th Anniversary concert of Elgar’s death at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and, shortly afterward Yehudi Menuhin and the ECO commissioned Donald to arrange four of Elgar’s works for a tour of America. These were subsequently recorded by Arabesque Records in New York.  Other work at this time included the orchestration of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, commissioned and recorded by Jim Litton and the American Boychoir for CD and DVD and the composition and recording of “A Christmas Symphony” with Jessye Norman, the American Boychoir and the New York Choral Society conducted by Robert DeCourmier. Donald was asked to conduct a series of baroque works with the ECO for BMG Classics which included his arrangement of Marais’ “The Bells of St. Genevieve.”

As a result of the chart success of the RCA Victor recording of the Bells of St. Genevieve, Donald was asked to produce, arrange and conduct a series of recordings for RCA parent company BMG Classics. Working from the New York office and recording mainly in London. Artists and CD’s included The King’s Singers, Canadian Brass, Angel Romero, The English Chamber Orchestra, World Anthems, Baroque Brass and tracks for many compilation albums.  Delos records in Los Angeles then engaged him for a series of recordings which led to the major chart successes of the Disney Classics CD’s ‘Heigh Ho! Mozart ‘ and ‘Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Bach’ as well as the Peter Pan music disc, Music of Jerome Kern and several other recordings.  In 1996 Donald was invited to become Artistic Director and Conductor of the Illinois Chamber Symphony Orchestra which he accepted and made the move to Chicago. As well as arranging and composing works for the Chamber Symphony, several new compositions and arrangements were commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Six film scores were also composed during this period for Berwick Universal Pictures, directed by Paul Yule along with the BBC/Warner’s Classics production of ‘The People’s Passion’ starring Jessye Norman, Sir Thomas Allen and Ron Moody.

In 2006 the TV film, DVD and CD of “Stand Ye Steady” with the choir of the United States Military Academy at West Point was released and commissions for a new harp concerto, a violin concerto, the choral/orchestral work “Songs of the World” and several chamber and choral works followed.   In 2010 Donald was awarded the Illinois American Choral Director’s Association prize for his work “In Moonlight” for men’s chorus. Record production with vocal group Chanticleer was begun along with appointment as Director of Music at Christ United Methodist Church Rockford, Illinois.  Donald continues to work as composer, conductor and recording producer and is currently at work on several chamber pieces and more record production projects.

My collection includes the following works composed or arranged by Donald Frasure:

The Ballad of Davy Crockett in the style of Copland,

Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo from Cinderella in the style of Bach.

Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins in the style of Pachelbel.

Du Gamla, Du Fria (arr.).

Hatikvah (arr.).

Jeszcze Polska (arr.).

Just Around the Riverbend from Pocahontas in the style of Vaughan Williams,

Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid in the style of Sibelius.

Land der Berge (arr.).

Marcha Real (arr).

Oh God of All Creation (arr.).

Some Day My Prince Will Come from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the style of Berlioz.

Whistle While You Work from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the style of Beethovan.

A Whole New World from Aladdin in the style of Chopin.

Wihelmus van Nassouwe (arr.).

You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story in the style of Bernstein.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Frederick Loewe and “My Fair Lady”


Frederick (original German Friedrich) Loewe (June 10, 1901-February 14, 1988), known as Fritz, was a German-born Austrian-American composer who collaborated with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner on a series of Broadway musicals, including the long-running My Fair Lady and Camelot, both of which were made into films.  Loewe was born on June 10, 1901, in Berlin, Germany, to Viennese parents, Edmond and Rosa. His father was a very famous Jewish musical star of operettas who traveled considerably, including North and South America, and much of Europe. He starred as Count Danilo in the 1906 Berlin production of The Merry Widow.  Fritz grew up in Berlin and attended a Prussian cadet school from the age of five until he was thirteen.  He was a child prodigy, playing the piano at age five.

By the age of seven or eight, Fritz learned by ear and played on piano every new song his father rehearsed for a new musical in which he was appearing. He was able to play the entire score and help his father in rehearsals. This impressed his father greatly, and Edmond suggested giving Fritz music lessons. His mother, however, was never moved by Fritz’s talent, saying; “Oh, they all do that!”  Also, he began composing songs at age seven. Fritz eventually did attend a famous conservatory in Berlin, one year behind the virtuoso Claudio Arrau, where he studied with Ferruccio Busoni and Eugene d’Albert. Both won the coveted Hollander Medal, awarded by the school, and Fritz gave performances as a concert pianist while still in Germany.  At thirteen, he was the youngest piano soloist ever to appear with the Berlin Philharmonic.  Loewe wrote a popular song, “Katrina,” at age fifteen, and more than 1,000,000 copies of the sheet music for it were eventually sold.

In 1925, Edmond received an offer to appear in New York, and Fritz traveled there with him. Deciding to go separate ways, Fritz decided he was going to “crash Broadway.”  Finding work in the German section of New York known as “Yorkville,” he made his way playing German clubs and in the movie theaters, accompanying silent pictures as they appeared on the screen. He would be given a prepared score for each film. Fritz’s first action would be to throw the score in the trash, composing his own melodies to suit the action on-screen. He discovered that he had a great facility for this type of improvisation and enjoyed his work.   When the Depression hit, Fritz was having a difficult time trying to get one of his musical pieces produced, or at least to get his songs published, so he did some odd jobs, including a stint at prize fighting.  In 1934 he contributed music to the Broadway play Petticoat Fever, and by 1936 he was writing music for Broadway revues, but he received little acclaim. Loewe collaborated with lyricist Earle Crooker on the musical plays Salute to Spring (1937) and Great Lady (1938), but they similarly failed to gain attention.

Fritz began to visit a famous New York night spot, “The Lambs Club,” frequented by theater people, stars, producers, managers, and directors. One evening In 1942 on the way to the men’s room he encountered Alan Jay Lerner at a nearby table. Fritz went up to him, saying “I understand you write lyrics.”  Alan replied “Well, I understand you write music.”  Alan was working on an idea for a show, Henry Duffy’s production of “Life of the Party,” based on Barry Connor’s farce The Patsy, for a Detroit, MI, stock company, and they decided to collaborate. It was not a major hit, but the score received favorable notices. It was the first time Fritz ever had his music reviewed. It enjoyed a nine-week run and encouraged the duo to join forces with Arthur Pierson for What’s Up?, which opened on Broadway in 1943 and ran for 63 performances.  Two years later, their next effort, “The Day Before Spring,” did a little better, and the team was beginning to receive very positive recognition.  Their first real hit was “Brigadoon”(1947), with its Scottish theme, and the combination Lerner and Loewe was finally recognized in theaters around the world. Fritz was 47 before his fame was established.

In 1952 the Lerner-Loewe Gold Rush story musical “Paint Your Wagon” hit Broadway, followed by the classic “My Fair Lady” in 1956, their adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, with the leads, Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, being played originally by Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, becoming the longest running musical of all time until the record was broken by “Cats.”   The partnership won the Tony Award for Best Musical. MGM took notice and commissioned them to write the film musical Gigi (1958), which won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The next production, “Camelot,” received terrible reviews when it opened. The director and producer of the play got the brilliant idea of having the stars, Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and sing a few numbers from the musical, along with an appearance by Alan and Fritz. The next morning the ticket office was swamped with requests, and “Camelot” became a huge hit.   Fritz then decided to retire to Palm Springs, CA, not writing anything until he was approached by Alan Lerner with the book “The Little Prince”, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. Fritz fell in love with the story and began work on the new production at age 71.  Loewe was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, and lived in Palm Springs in retirement until his death on February 14, 1988.

The following works by Frederick Loewe are contained in my collection:

Camelot: Medley.

Gigi: Selections.

My Fair Lady (1956): Selections.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

Little Red Schoolhouse, Easton, MD

PHOTOS BY LIZ ANDREWThe Little Red Schoolhouse is the only one-room schoolhouse in Talbot County that is still kept in its original condition.


The Little Red School House (circa 1890), Longwood Road, Route 662, Easton, MD 21601 (410-770-8050)

The Longwoods Schoolhouse is a little red schoolhouse built in 1887 and open until 1967.  Students from the first to the sixth grade were taught in one building. Lessons like social studies could be taught all at once but things like math and reading would require the students to be broken into groups. Students were assigned different types of homework as well. Talbot County used to have more than 60 schoolhouses because most students had to walk to school.  Although Longwoods isn’t the only remaining schoolhouse, it is the last functioning one.  It has been restored and now serves as a museum where fourth grade students get to experience what a day in school was like in the early 1900s. The building is owned by Talbot County, but the Historical Society of Talbot County offers the Longwoods One-Room School Program at the old schoolhouse. When the students first enter, through separate entrances for boys and girls, they have to put on nametags of actual students who attended the school and for the rest of the day the students have to answer to that name.  Textbooks from the early 1900s were used in developing the program so that students learn from short stories and texts from that time period.  A paper “Lesson Book” is passed out to students when they enter the classroom and is used for reading, grammar, math and practicing handwriting on “slates.” One of the lessons taught is a comparison of prices for items such as bread, cheese, and butter in the early 1900s and the prices for it today. Students also get to look at a map of Talbot County from the early 1900s and find local buildings.   For many students the highlight of the trip is using the functional outhouses located behind the school.  There is a pot-bellied stove in the back of the classroom in which kids would have to come early and get the fire started. The American flag only has 45 stars and students discuss which states were not a part of the Union.  For more information about the program, call 410-822-0773 or visit

Alban Berg and his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra


Alban Maria Johannes Berg (February 9, 1885 – December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer and member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, who produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg’s atonal twelve-tone technique.  Berg was born on February 9, 1885, in Vienna, Austria, the third of four children of Conrad and Johanna Berg. His father ran a successful export business and owned properties throughout Vienna, as well as an estate in Carinthia known as the Berghof.  As practicing Catholics, the family also garnered income from a shop Berg’s mother operated, a Devotionalienhandlung.  Apart from a few short musical trips abroad and annual summer sojourns in the Austrian Alps, Berg’s life was spent in the city of his birth. In his youth, Alban was more interested in literature than music and as a child leaned toward a literary career. However, as in most Viennese middle-class homes, music was regularly played in his parents’ house, in keeping with the general musical atmosphere of the city, so encouraged by his father and older brother, Alban began to compose music without benefit of formal instruction.  He did not begin to compose until he was fifteen, when he started to teach himself music, and during this period his output consisted of more than 100 songs and piano duets, most of which remain unpublished.

Berg’s family lived comfortably until the death of his father in 1900.  Having graduated from Gymnasium after repeating two years, Berg found himself working as a trainee civil servant, but in September 1904 he met Arnold Schoenberg, an event that decisively influenced his life. The death of Berg’s father had left little money for composition lessons, but Schoenberg was quick to recognize Berg’s talent and accepted the young man as a nonpaying pupil.  Berg had received little formal music education before he became a student of Schoenberg in October, 1904. With Schoenberg he studied counterpoint, music theory, and harmony.  By 1906, he was studying music full-time, and by 1907, he began composition lessons. His student compositions included five drafts for piano sonatas. He also wrote songs, including his Seven Early Songs (Sieben Frühe Lieder), three of which were Berg’s first publicly performed work in a concert that featured the music of Schoenberg’s pupils in Vienna that year. The early sonata sketches eventually culminated in Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1 (1907–1908); it is one of the most formidable “first” works ever written.  This was followed by Four Songs (op. 2, 1909) and String Quartet (op. 3, 1910).  Berg studied with Schoenberg for six years until 1911. Berg admired him as a composer and mentor, and they remained close lifelong friends.

Berg was a part of Vienna’s cultural elite during the heady fin de siècle period. His circle included the musicians Alexander von Zemlinsky and Franz Schreker, the painters Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Klimt, the writer and satirist Karl Kraus, the architect Adolf Loos, and the poet Peter Altenberg. In 1906, Berg met the singer Helene Nahowski, daughter of a high-ranking Austrian officer.  Despite the outward hostility of her wealthy family, the two were married on May 3, 1911.  The Bergs took an apartment in Vienna, where he settled down to devote the remainder of his life to music.  In 1913, two of Berg’s Five Songs on Picture Postcard Texts by Peter Altenberg (1912) were premièred in Vienna, conducted by Schoenberg in the infamous Skandalkonzert. Settings of poetic utterances, the songs are accompanied by a very large orchestra. The performance caused a riot, and had to be halted. This was a crippling blow to Berg’s self-confidence: he effectively withdrew the work, and it was not performed in full until 1952. The full score remained unpublished until 1966.

The genesis of Berg’s first work for the stage was a memorable theatrical experience: the performance of German dramatist Georg Büchner’s (1813–37) Woyzeck (published 1879).  The theme fascinated Berg, but was delayed by World War I. From 1915 to 1918, Berg served in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during the course of the war, Berg, always in frail health, worked in the War Ministry, but while on leave in 1917 he accelerated work on Wozzeck, compressing 25 scenes into three acts. Although he managed to write the libretto in 1917, he did not begin composing the score until the war was over. He completed the opera in 1921.  After the end of World War I, he settled again in Vienna where he taught private pupils. He also helped Schoenberg run his Society for Private Musical Performances, which sought to create the ideal environment for the exploration and appreciation of unfamiliar new music by means of open rehearsals, repeat performances, and the exclusion of professional critics.  Three excerpts from Wozzeck were performed in 1924, and this brought Berg his first public success. The opera, which Berg completed in 1922, was first performed on December 14, 1925, when Erich Kleiber directed the first performance in Berlin.

Other well-known Berg compositions include the post-Mahlerian Three Pieces for Orchestra, completed in 1915 but not performed until after Wozzeck; the Chamber Concerto (Kammerkonzert, 1923–25) for violin, piano, and 13 wind instruments: and the Lyric Suite (1926).  Berg began searching for a new opera text. He found it in two plays by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind (1864–1918). From Erdgeist (1895; “Earth Spirit”) and Büchse der Pandora (1904; “Pandora’s Box”), he extracted the central figure for his opera Lulu. Berg completed the orchestration of only the first two acts of this later three-act opera Lulu, before he died.  With the seizure of power by the Nazis in Germany in 1933, Berg lost most of his income. He interrupted the orchestration of Lulu because of an unexpected and financially much-needed commission from the Russian-American violinist Louis Krasner for a Violin Concerto (1935). Berg worked at fever pitch in the seclusion of his villa in the Austrian province of Carinthia and completed the concerto in six weeks.

In mid-November 1935, Berg returned, a sick man, to Vienna where he died on Christmas Eve, 1935, from blood poisoning apparently caused by an insect-sting-induced carbuncle on his back. He was 50 years old   The Violin Concerto was posthumously premièred at Barcelona, Spain, in April 1936.   The first two acts of Lulu were successfully premièred at Zürich in 1937, but for personal reasons Helene Berg subsequently imposed a ban on any attempt to “complete” the final act, and the orchestration was commissioned from Friedrich Cerha and premièred in Paris under Pierre Boulez only in 1979, soon after Helene Berg’s own death.  Berg is remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century and to date is the most widely performed opera composer among the Second Viennese School.  He is considered to have brought more human values to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more emotional than Schoenberg’s.  Critically he is seen to have preserved the Viennese tradition in his music.  His popularity has been more easily secured than many other Modernists since he plausibly combined both Romantic and Expressionist idioms.

My collection includes the following works by Alban Berg:

Chamber Concerto for Piano and Violin with (13) Winds (1925)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1935)

Five Orchestral Songs after Texts from Postcards of P. Altenberg, op. 4 (1912).

Lyric Suite (1926): Three Pieces.

—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources

What the Gay-Marriage Ruling Means for Education

What the Gay-Marriage Ruling Means for Education

Written by Frederick M. Hess

Like fascists, Communists, and boy-band producers, the American Left has always believed it could fine-tune human nature if it could only “get ’em while they’re young.” That’s why the Left works so hard to impose its will on schools and universities. As John Dewey, America’s high priest of educational progressivism, explained in 1897, the student must “emerge from his original narrowness” in order “to conceive of himself” as a cog in the larger social order.

Last week’s gay-marriage ruling will yield a new wave of liberal efforts to ensure that schools do their part to combat wrong-headed “narrowness.” Justice Anthony Kennedy’s sweeping 5–4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges opened by declaring, “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” Kennedy took pains to opine that marriage “draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.”

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