Arthur Berger (1912–2003) joined the NEC composition faculty in 1979 after his official “retirement” from teaching, and remained for two decades, well into an "emeritus" status that did not diminish his participation in the musical life of the Conservatory.
Berger made his mark on 20th-century music both as a journalist and as a composer. His music reviews appeared in the Boston Transcript in the 1930s, while he was a student at Harvard; he later wrote for the New York Herald Tribune, and founded and edited two publications: The Musical Mercury and Perspectives in New Music.
As a composer, Berger shifted from neoclassicism to 12-tone and other modernist composition techniques; his studies and life kept him close to many of the 20th century’s key figures in the arts, from Stravinsky to Motherwell.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a recording on New World of Berger’s complete orchestral works, the product of several years of BMOP’s annual Jordan Hall concerts devoted to NEC composers and performers. Geoffrey Burleson ’88 M.M. has recorded his complete piano music (Centaur, 2002).
Berger’s Reflections of an American Composer was published by University of California Press in 2002.
A memorial concert was held at NEC on January 28, 2004, and a recording is available for listeners at NEC's Firestone Library.