Introduction to the Twentieth Century


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1 Mapping the Route to the 20th+ Century Legacies and Changing Ideas

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2 Understanding the Pivot Point “When” is the beginning of the musical twentieth century? As with other musical periods, a date is unsatisfactory A revolutionary moment? A clearly directed shift in musical ideas and intents?

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3 Understanding the Pivot Point An often accepted “moment” arrives in 1907 – when Arnold Schoenberg formalizes a new compositional approach: the break with tonality This new idea characterizes much of the music produced by composers in the first decade of the 20th century.

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4 Schoenberg: Acknowledgement of Old and New “Whether one calls oneself conservative or revolutionary, whether one composers in a conventional or progressive manner, whether one tries to imitate old styles or is destined to express new ideas - one must be convinced of the infallibility of one's own fantasy and one must believe in one's own inspiration.” “I owe very, very much to Mozart; and if one studies, for instance, the way in which I write for string quartet, then one cannot deny that I have learned this directly from Mozart. And I am proud of it!”

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5 Processes Towards Change Traditional Tonality Evolved throughout the 19th century as: a gradual shift away from tonal construction and a new set of aesthetics; We can think of the 19th century as the stage for new innovations to come and, as such, the music of the 19th in deeply linked to that of the 20th.

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6 19th-century tool-kit Legacy of common practice: Pitch center and pitch hierarchies; Resulting rhythmic and formal structures with goal-directed motion; Modulation: redirecting the ear but always returning to an anticipated closure;

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7 19th-century tool-kit building blocks in all forms are the same; shorter musical units (phrases, periods, sections, movements) combine and connect to produce longer “logical” musical narratives; grammar and syntax in forms

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8 Form Forms developed over time and are a key component of the European “universal musical language” that defines the Classical genre; Though composers brought regional and personal qualities to the tool kit, they were all using the same basic grammar; This is the common practice period (c. 1700-c. 1900) HOWEVER, the 19th-century witnesses a manipulation of this common practice legacy in ways that lead to musical evolutions and revolutions;

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9 Shifts in Musical Thought increasing preference for a personal musical expression (from Romanticism) rather than a universal style; the classical musical tool kit was amazingly malleable, and composers could write in personal styles

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10 Shifts in Musical Thought Personal approach increases throughout the 19th century Composers are also interested in giving each piece its own identity, a uniqueness.

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11 Approaches: 19th–20th thematic materials distinct rhythmic and melodic contour pieces begin in unique registers characteristic instrumental color hyper-chromaticism and dissonance from closely related keys to remote tone regions key relationships become motivic

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12 Approaches: 19th–20th tonal centers become implied rather than overtly stated results in fluidity: “unbroken flux” thematic and harmonic ambiguity not part of a development, but heard from the beginning of a piece result: long, fluid, organic musical pieces embracing mabiguity and obscurity

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13 Developing Ideas music as reflective of extra-musical ideas program music allowed for the development of music that was dramatic, coloristic, and descriptive allowed for passages that were not explainable in purely musical ways program music and opera provided the context for innovation and experimentation

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14 Developing Ideas Nationalism: Classical musical language articulated by German, Italian, and French Composers; In 19th-century, the common practice language became a backdrop for regional sensibilities and musical aesthetics: modal scales; rhythmic relationships based on local language patterns

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15 Developing Ideas new possibilities in modal complexity eventual experimentation with the 12-tone scale juxtaposition of keys (Strauss, Mahler)

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16 Changing Social Frameworks Throughout the 19th-century: music separates from the cultural and social contexts of the past patronage system dissolves (church and aristocracy as basis for composition) composers are emancipated and create according to personal expressive needs

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17 experimentation pursuit of new and unusual not concerned with comprehension from a broader public imagination and revolt

Summary: Connections between 19th and 20th century musical developments in Western Classical Music

Tags: introduction twentieth century music