Occasionally, the story behind the composition of a masterpiece is so entwined with the notes themselves, that it must be heard alongside the music.
In February of 1935, the American violinist Louis Krasner (who taught the teacher that both of my musician daughters studied with!!!) commissioned Berg to write him a violin concerto. Berg was busy composing his opera, Lulu, but was so broke he felt he could not refuse.
On April 22nd, Manon Gropius -- the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler (who had left her husband, Gustav) and Walter Gropius -- died of poliomyelitis. Berg dedicated the concerto to her -- dem Andenken eines Engels ("In Memory of an Angel").
Berg finished the concerto as a piano score in July and was then stung by an insect at the base of his spine which gradually developed into an abscess. He died of septicaemia on December 23rd.
The piano reduction most likely indicated Berg's intentions vis-a-vis orchestration, but ultimately, the piece had to be carefully reconstructed by Krasner and his associates.