Vienna Opera says: Jump through my hoops

Vienna Opera says: Jump through my hoops


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2016

This is the new Alban Berg monument in front of the Vienna Opera.


berg denkmal

photo (c) lukas beck

Doesn’t get much uglier, but maybe that’s the message they want to convey.


  • John Borstlap says:

    I hear that small-scale copies of the object will be on sale in Viennese tourist shops, and indeed as bottle openers.

  • Sixtus says:

    And in its plastic version it is a multipurpose sex toy. How appropriate, considering Berg’s meanderings as documented in his music (e.g. the erotic decoding of the Lyric Suite).

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I realize some people are expecting a statue-likeness as a memorial but Alban Berg’s physical appearance wasn’t the accomplishment of his that merited memory.

    A sculpture can’t really represent a musician but this one will provoke interest and inquiry, which is good.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Monuments for people are always problematic. What to depict? Their real, literal appearance, or what they represent? Since monuments will occupy public space, the core interest is the ideas or achievements of the person concerned, so literal depiction is not so relevant, likeness should be enough to identify the person. There is a long history of monumental representation in Europe with a wide range of success including ridicule and impressive achievement, and nothing would be more logical than to study this history and choose the type which seems to best represent the thing that is to be monumentalized. A crazy abstract bottle opener is hardly the best way of commemorizing people like Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, let alone Mahler.

      A group monument of two people who provided the ammunition with which the classical tradition could be destroyed (Schoenberg and Webern), and another two people who desperately tried to hang-on to this very tradition (Mahler and Berg), seems to be quite a challenge for any designer. Given that one of them was an ardent nazi supporter (Webern), one wonders why Vienna, of all places, NB the city which became the vivid embodiment of classical music in the world, with its rich classical tradition which is still being practiced with fervour in its very successful institutions, should honor such diverse and troubled group of composers. The clumsiness of the monument is probably the best expression of the problematic nature of the gesture.