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Reinhard von Berg: Biography

Reinhard von Berg
1945 -
Region: Prairie

Reinhard von Berg

Reinhard von Berg was born on July 7, 1945 in Weißenfels, (East) Germany. His parents were refugees from Estonia and Poland. In 1950 the family emigrated to Finland; in 1951 to Edmonton in Canada, where Reinhard received his entire schooling. He started accordion lessons at age 12 (and managed to win the Open Competition at age 15). He started playing organ at 16; at the end of Grade 12 got a summer job and bought himself a piano so he could satisfy the entrance requirements at the University of Alberta. After spending a year working up to Grade VIII piano, he entered the B.Mus. Programme in 1964, as a composition major under Violet Archer.

After graduating cum distinctione in 1968, Reinhard accepted a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service and went to Cologne, to study electronic music with Herbert Eimert. He also started a course with Karlheinz Stockhausen at that time, but had to drop it due to time constraints.

In April, 1969, Reinhard moved to Freiburg in the Black Forest, where he studied composition with Wolfgang Fortner, and musicology with H.H. Eggebrecht. In the summers he attended courses in Darmstadt, and in Bilthoven, Holland. He completed the Diplomprüfung in Theory and Composition at the Musikhochschule Freiburg in 1971. In that year, he was accepted by Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Illinois Universities, the University of Alberta, and by the University of California, San Diego. He chose the last named, and spent 3 years there, completing an M.A. majoring in electronic music. His teachers included Pauline Oliveros, Robert Erickson, Kenneth Gaburo, and Roger Reynolds. He was accepted into the doctoral programme, but decided that finances did not permit pursuing it.

In 1974, Reinhard von Berg returned to Edmonton, and in 1976 began as instructor of piano, theory, and composition at Alberta College Conservatory in Edmonton, where he still remains. Over the years, he has developed the technique of teaching “creative music” to children and adults. “Creative music” ranges from free improvisation to set composition, but is usually not written down. Reinhard’s students regularly appear in this capacity in local festivals.

In Edmonton, Reinhard did a variety of composing and concertising. He founded the improvisation ensemble Otherwise, collaborated with poets Vincent Vates, Douglas Barbour, and Stephen Scobie, dancer Marian Sarach, storyteller Tiganne Andersen, and various visual artists. He became a member of ECCS, the Edmonton Composers Concert Society (currently Vice President), the Boreal ElectroAcoustic Music society, and Associate Member of the Canadian Music Centre. He has been organist and Music Director at St. Paul’s Lutheran church since 1961.

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