• 1949

    graduated from the Polish High School in Český Těšín and began studies at the Music College in Katowice

  • 1952 – 1956

    studied piano with Frico Kafenda and Štefan Németh-Šamorínsky at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava

  • 1956 – 1965

    taught piano at the Bratislava Conservatory

  • 1961 – 1965

    studied composition with Dezider Kardoš at the Academy of Performing Arts

  • 1965 – 1966

    worked in the Sound Studio of Czechoslovak Television

  • 1969 – 1971

    taught contemporary music at the Department of Theory of Academy of Performing Arts

  • 1970s

    collaborated with Ivan Mačák in ethnomusicology research

  • 1978 – 1989

    worked in the Institute of Art of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

  • 1990 – 1991

    member of the Ministry of Culture Advisory Board

  • 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998

    jury member of the Witold Lutosławski International Composition Competition in Warsaw

  • 1999

    granted an honorary membership of the Polish Composers' Union

“The beginnings of Berger's musical activity are related to the field of piano playing, to which he was intensely devoted primarily as a performer and later as a composer. His composing profile was incisively developed in the 1960s, during which Berger moved from the specific world of piano literature to searching for a personal attitude through the important expression of music of the 20th century (Suite in the Old Style for strings, percussion and keyboards) by moving to the position of dealing with avant-garde orchestral sounds and electronic media. The orchestral work Transformácie / Transformation uses an extremely large apparatus of instruments to create sonorous effects – a procedure that is associated with the so-called Polish School and which not by chance coincides with the development of electronic sound manipulation and its artistic use. The eight years younger composition Memento po smrti Miroslava Filipa / Memento After the Death of Miroslav Filip, was handled with the same apparatus. Sound mass is more subordinated to intervallic thinking (the whole piece could be characterized as a study of chromatic procedures) and the principle of contraposition of instrumental groups is here replaced by instrumentation facing the integration of disparate sounds into a whole. The second focus of Berger's music is in chamber music, which in quantity prevails over his orchestral works. His chamber works are characteristic of the author's thinking – the focus is on motivic shape, pursuing the logic of its development, the creation of large formal areas, in which motivic work is given time to be implemented. This concept goes hand in hand with a focus on a contemplative understanding of music and art in general, which is probably most represented in the composition De Profundis. Philosophizing poetic lyrics by T. Różewicz are congenially associated with the composer's skepticism and in this conjunction there is no first or second plan. Voice, instruments and text are equally involved in the evocation of personal consciousness identified with the conscience of mankind. Berger belongs to those artists-philosophers who cannot imagine their profession without a sense of responsibility for the „uttered word“, for his contribution to the state of the social mind. Creativity, and thus art, is inherently given to a person, and importantly, where the axis of the sacrum – profanum is directed. If in the composition De Profundis we can find the vision of man as the killer and the victim, the angel and the devil at the same time, then we could allocate its position as the author's principled basis for reflections of the civilization in which we live. In the second half of the '80s and  '90s Berger's harmonic language contained also the simpler elements in a spirit of acceptance of expressive qualities of „traditional“ consonants, and the integrity of his artistic stance remains unaffected. The vulgar requirement of „clarity“ of the art, promoted under socialism and growing pragmatism in the relationship between artist and market-oriented society (i.e. art as a commodity) – these are the topics that interested Berger in numerous essays, studies and lectures written for the last twenty years. The composer entered by these lectures into a broad dialogue not only with like-minded artists but also with scientists, educators, philosophers, and in the context of equalization of values and uniformity „of society of advertising“ he is becoming one of the lone specialists.”

 

(ZAGAR, Peter: Roman Berger. In: 100 slovenských skladateľov. Ed. Marián Jurík, Peter Zagar. Bratislava : Národné hudobné centrum, 1998, p. 45 – 46.)

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