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For an unfinished play, Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck (1836) has inspired more adaptations than almost any other German drama. But it is Alban Berg’s 1925 opera, Wozzeck, which has had the deepest impact. The combination of Buchner’s dark, inflammatory themes and Berg’s atonal score resulted in what is generally regarded as the first avant-garde opera.

The story of an impoverished soldier driven to hallucinatory madness, murder and self-destruction by a series of humiliations, it is a…

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