Wozzeck is the first opera by the Austrian composer Alban Berg. It was composed between 1914 and 1922 and first performed in 1925. The opera is based on the drama Woyzeck left incomplete by the German playwright Georg Büchner at his death. Berg attended the first production in Vienna of Büchner's play on 5 May 1914, and knew at once that he wanted to base an opera on it. From the fragments of unordered scenes left by Büchner, Berg selected fifteen to form a compact structure of three acts with five scenes each. He adapted the libretto himself, retaining "the essential character of the play, with its many short scenes, its abrupt and sometimes brutal language, and its stark, if haunted, realism..."
Though its musical style is challenging, the quality of Berg's work (in particular, the characterization of the situation through clearly defined musical techniques) amply repays repeated listenings. Although a typical performance takes only slightly over an hour and a half, it is nevertheless an intense experience. The subject matterâ€”the inevitability of hardship and exploitation for the poorâ€”is brutal and uncompromisingly presented.