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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000279.txt from 2000/09

From: "Michael Bryant" <>
Subj: [kl] Music History
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 12:46:00 -0400

Hope to decoy you away from the Schoenberg thing.

Was a little surprised and provoked to discover how music
has moved swiftly on, since I last sat in the classroom
25 years ago. Here are extracts from a tabulated article
in a British Sunday newspaper which helped to bring me
partly up to date, but partly overlapped what I know..
(some additions of my own)

Music history was once linear and geographical
and in the 19th century everything became a polarised whole
(Wagner v Brahms) that grew larger and louder.
This was followed by fragmentation making generalisation
inapplicable, and leaving post-1945 listeners totally baffled
by numerous musical manoeuvres. There are some absentees
from the grid - Berio, Birtwistle, Rihm, Lutoslawski
whose originality defy categorisation....

1) Neo-classicism - Hans Werner Henze - Elliott Carter
Originated by Stravinsky, peaked before WWII
Still extant. Very influential and touched a huge range
of composers before they moved on.
Key works: Carter Double Concerto, Henze
Boulevard Solitude , Carter String Quartet #1,
Tippett "Corelli Fantasia"

2) Total Serialism - Boulez - Stockhausen - Nono
Originated by Schoenberg, archetypal 20th century,
no tunes or rhythmic pulse. Dominant in the 1950s
Very restrictive. Key Works: Stockhausen Piano pieces,
Boulez Marteau sans Maitre, Nono Il Canto Sospero

3) Indeterminacy - John Cage
Zen-inspired antidote to serialism. Could be anything you like.
Came to the fore in 1960s and tailed off later
Hard to differentiate between chaos and order, sense and nonsense
Stockhausen Stimmung, Feldman String Quartet

4) Minimalism - Reich - Glass - Riley
Originated in the USA. The most important stylistic development
of the 1970/80s. Limited in range. Very great influence.
Glass Einstein on the Beech, Reich Music for 18 Musicians, Riley In C

5) Polystylicism - Schnittke - Holloway - Kurtag
Timetravellers. Displays a tendency to quote other composers
and includes wide range of styles: medieval to atonality.
Another reaction against serialism
Emotionally effective, but not influential

6) Neo-Romanticism - Gorecki - Ligeti
Reaction against the avant garde. Back to "Victorian" values.
Pioneered by Gorecki in the 1990s. Used by bad composers
(not Ligeti) as a means of conquering modernism.
Gorecki 3rd Symphony, Ligeti Horn Trio, Kancheli's Symphonies
High volume CD sales (Gorecki)

7) Holy Simplicity - Taverner - Part
Various origins, Orthodox Church, Stravinsky,
Messiaen, minimalism, neo-classicism
Crusade against the evil empire, modernism
Slow pace, vocal, lacks harmony.
Considerable record sales.
Tavener Akasthist, Part St John's Passion

8) New Complexity - Ferneyhough - Dillon
Extension of total serialism, a wild parody of the avant garde
No pulse, came to a peak in the 1980s
Hard to understand or appreciate. Highly technical
Not influential.
Ferneyhough Transit and Carceri d'invenzione I,
Dillon Windows and Canopies

9) Eclecticism - Mark Anthony Turnage - Louis Andriessen -
Hans Werner Henze - Thomas Ades
A synthesis of modernism and popular styles including jazz,
Britten meets Miles Davies and beyond. Prevalent in the 1990s.
Likely to rule the musical world for at least the next decade
Henze Voices, Turnage Greek, any Ades

10) Post-Minimalism - John Adams - Michael Nyman - Louis Andriessen
Born of minimalism, and an extension of it, can follow neo-classical
(Adams) or eclectic (Andriessen) tendencies
Retains a regular pulse, harmony and rhetorical gestures.
Andriessen De Materie, Adams Chamber Symphony

Michael Bryant,
Tel (messages 24hrs) & Fax by request
+44 (0) 20 8390 3236
Rosewood Publications url:

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