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Music 1900-1945
MODERNISM
But first . . .
A PRELUDE TO
MODERNISM . . .
DEBUSSY
listening example
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
(Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune) (1894)
-- inspired by a poem inspired by a painting of a
Classical mythical story
-- exoticism, mythical pastoral
-- ambiguous (vague?) harmony
-- very little, if any, recognizable conventional or
traditional form
-- very well received at its premiere by the public; it
baffled the musical establishment
-- emphasis on sonority (timbre & colorful harmony)
-- called Impressionist, although Debussy hated the term
Music 1900-1945
MODERNISM
TRENDS
• DISSONANCE “LIBERATED”
• “PRIMITIVISM” – MORE GENERALLY:
FOLK MUSIC, AN ALTERNATIVE TO
STANDARD PATTERNS & FORMULAS
• CHAOTIC SURFACES, CONSISTENT INNER
WORKINGS
• EXPRESSIONISM
• IRONY & DISTANCE – dissimulation
Dissonance as sonority
LISTENING EXAMPLES
CHOPIN Prelude No. 2
TEXTBOOK CD EXAMPLE:
SCHOENBERG Etwas Rasch
(somewhat fast) from
Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 (1911)
(previously, 1600-1900 – dissonance is functional,
functioning to drive melody and harmony forward)
Stravinsky
The Rite of Spring (Le
Sacre du printemps)
(1913; for very large
orchestra)
-- a ballet with a story line
written in part by an
anthropologist
-- interested in primitive or
exotic materials; what is
behind the mask of
civilization?
Stravinsky
The Rite of Spring
-- radically new: non-tonal,
harsh unresolved
dissonance, percussive,
brilliant orchestral effects,
extreme ranges,
rhythmically and metrically
very irregular and quite
innovative
-- a riot (somewhat staged)
at its premiere; much
publicity ensues
Stravinsky’s drawing
Serialism
developed by Arnold Schoenberg
An order of the 12 possible chromatic pitches is the
basis of the organization of a piece of music, not a
key or tonality or a scale
Schoenberg & his 2 pupils, Alban Berg & Anton
Webern, become “known” as the 2nd Viennese
School
Schoenberg
Listening example:
Suite, Op 29, 1925
For 3 clarinets & 3 strings & piano
Uses “12-tone” method of composition
Blue self-portrait, 1910
Schoenberg
amateur Expressionist
painter
The Red Gaze, 1910
Webern
• STUDIED WITH SCHOENBERG
• STUDIED EARLY MUSIC – HE WENT BACK
TO MACHAUT, JOSQUIN AND OTHERS
• Modernist; very influential in the European
avant-garde and among American academic
composers, particularly in the 1950s; virtually
unknown to the general public
Webern – listening example
first movement of Symphony, Opus 21 (1928)
-- serialism
-- emotionally concentrated, like feelings frozen into a
crystal
-- very short (only two movements)
-- very small orchestra (can be played by as few as 9
instruments)
-- premiere at a society for private performances of music in
Vienna
Stravinsky
3 periods:
• Russian (Primitivist)
• Neo-Classical
• Late (Serialist)
Stravinsky - Picasso
3 periods:
• Russian (Primitivist)
• Neo-Classical
• Late (Serialist)
several periods:
• Primitivist
• Cubist
• Neo-Classical
Neo-classical
Picasso, Femme
Neo-Romanticism
BACKWATER OR MAINSTREAM?
SAMUEL BARBER
Adagio for Strings, 1936
Modernism –
Romanticism intensified?
Folk interest/exoticism  primitivism
Demons  Subconscious? (inner demons)
Artist as prophet  Artist as prophet
Artist as outsider/rebel  Artist as outsider/rebel
What is new?  What is New? Historicism?
TRENDS
• DISSONANCE “LIBERATED”
• “PRIMITIVISM” – MORE GENERALLY:
FOLK MUSIC, AN ALTERNATIVE TO
STANDARD PATTERNS & FORMULAS
• CHAOTIC SURFACES, CONSISTENT INNER
WORKINGS
• EXPRESSIONISM
CHAOS v. ORDER