Western classical music
|Common practice period|
|Late 19th-, 20th- and 21st-centuries|
Contemporary classical music is classical music composed close to the present day. At the beginning of the 21st century, it commonly referred to the post-1945 modern forms of post-tonal music after the death of Anton Webern, and included serial music, electronic music, experimental music, and minimalist music. Newer forms of music include spectral music, and post-minimalism.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, composers of classical music were experimenting with an increasingly dissonant pitch language, which sometimes yielded atonal pieces. Following World War I, as a backlash against what they saw as the increasingly exaggerated gestures and formlessness of late Romanticism, certain composers adopted a neoclassic style, which sought to recapture the balanced forms and clearly perceptible thematic processes of earlier styles(see also New Objectivity and Social Realism). After World War II, modernist composers sought to achieve greater levels of control in their composition process (e.g., through the use of the twelve-tone technique and later total serialism). At the same time, conversely, composers also experimented with means of abdicating control, exploring indeterminacy or aleatoric processes in smaller or larger degrees. Technological advances led to the birth of electronic music. Experimentation with tape loops and repetitive textures contributed to the advent of minimalism. Still other composers started exploring the theatrical potential of the musical performance (performance art, mixed media, fluxus). New works of contemporary classical music continue to be created. Each year, the Boston Conservatory at Berklee presents 700 performances. New works from contemporary classical music program students comprise roughly 150 of these performances.
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To some extent, European and the US traditions diverged after World War II. Among the most influential composers in Europe were Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The first and last were both pupils of Olivier Messiaen. An important aesthetic philosophy as well as a group of compositional techniques at this time was serialism (also called "through-ordered music", "'total' music" or "total tone ordering"), which took as its starting point the compositions of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern (but was opposed to traditional twelve-tone music), and was also closely related to Le Corbusier's idea of the modulor .However, some more traditionally based composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten maintained a tonal style of composition despite the prominent serialist movement.
In America, composers like Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Henry Cowell, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, George Rochberg, and Roger Sessions, formed their own ideas. Some of these composers (Cage, Cowell, Glass, Reich) represented a new methodology of experimental music, which began to question fundamental notions of music such as notation, performance, duration, and repetition, while others (Babbitt, Rochberg, Sessions) fashioned their own extensions of the twelve-tone serialism of Schoenberg.
The vocabulary of extended tonality, which flourished in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries, continues to be used by contemporary composers. It has never been considered shocking or controversial in the larger musical world—as has been demonstrated statistically for the United States, at least, where "most composers continued working in what has remained throughout this century the mainstream of tonal-oriented composition".
Serialism is one of the most important post-war movements among the high modernist schools. Serialism, more specifically named "integral" or "compound" serialism, was led by composers such as Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, and Karlheinz Stockhausen in Europe, and by Milton Babbitt, Donald Martino, Mario Davidovsky, and Charles Wuorinen in the United States. Some of their compositions use an ordered set or several such sets, which may be the basis for the whole composition, while others use "unordered" sets. The term is also often used for dodecaphony, or twelve-tone technique, which is alternatively regarded as the model for integral serialism.
Despite its decline in the last third of the 20th century, there remained at the end of the century an active core of composers who continued to advance the ideas and forms of high modernism. Those no longer living included Pierre Boulez, Pauline Oliveros, Toru Takemitsu, Jacob Druckman, George Perle, Ralph Shapey. [ when? ] include Magnus Lindberg, George Benjamin, Brian Ferneyhough, Wolfgang Rihm, Richard Wernick, Richard Wilson,and James MacMillan.Franco Donatoni, Jonathan Harvey, Erkki Salmenhaara, and Henrik Otto Donner, Those still living today
Between 1975 and 1990, a shift in the paradigm of computer technology had taken place, making electronic music systems affordable and widely accessible. The personal computer had become an essential component of the electronic musician's equipment, superseding analog synthesizers and fulfilling the traditional functions of composition and scoring, synthesis and sound processing, sampling of audio input, and control over external equipment. [ needs update ]
Some authors equate polystylism with eclecticism, while others make a sharp distinction.
Musical historicism—the use of historical materials, structures, styles, techniques, media, conceptual content, etc., whether by a single composer or those associated with a particular school, movement, or period—is evident to varying degrees in minimalism, post-minimalism, world-music, and other genres in which tonal traditions have been sustained or have undergone a significant revival in recent decades.Some post-minimalist works employ medieval and other genres associated with early music, such as the "Oi me lasso" and other laude of Gavin Bryars.
The historicist movement is closely related to the emergence of musicology and the early music revival. A number of historicist composers have been influenced by their intimate familiarity with the instrumental practices of earlier periods (Hendrik Bouman, Grant Colburn, Michael Talbot, Paulo Galvão, Roman Turovsky-Savchuk). The musical historicism movement has also been stimulated by the formation of such international organizations as the Delian Society and Vox Saeculorum.
Some composers have emerged since the 1980s who are influenced by art rock, for example, Rhys Chatham.
New Complexity is a current within today's[ when? ] European contemporary avant-garde music scene, named in reaction to the New Simplicity. Amongst the candidates suggested for having coined the term are the composer Nigel Osborne, the Belgian musicologist Harry Halbreich, and the British/Australian musicologist Richard Toop, who gave currency to the concept of a movement with his article "Four Facets of the New Complexity".
Though often atonal, highly abstract, and dissonant in sound, the "New Complexity" is most readily characterized by the use of techniques which require complex musical notation. This includes extended techniques, microtonality, odd tunings, highly disjunct melodic contour, innovative timbres, complex polyrhythms, unconventional instrumentations, abrupt changes in loudness and intensity, and so on.[ citation needed ] The diverse group of composers writing in this style includes Richard Barrett, Brian Ferneyhough, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, James Dillon, Michael Finnissy, James Erber, and Roger Redgate.
Notable composers of operas since 1975 include:
Notable composers of post-1945 classical film and television scores include:
Contemporary classical music originally written for the concert hall can also be heard on the music track of some films, such as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999), both of which used concert music by György Ligeti, and also in Kubrick's The Shining (1980) which used music by both Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki. Jean-Luc Godard, in La Chinoise (1967), Nicolas Roeg in Walkabout (1971), and the Brothers Quay in In Absentia (2000) used music by Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Some notable works for chamber orchestra:
In recent years, many composers have composed for concert bands (also called wind ensembles). Notable composers include:
The following is an incomplete list of contemporary-music festivals:
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.
In music, serialism is a method of composition using series of pitches, rhythms, dynamics, timbres or other musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though some of his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as a form of post-tonal thinking. Twelve-tone technique orders the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, forming a row or series and providing a unifying basis for a composition's melody, harmony, structural progressions, and variations. Other types of serialism also work with sets, collections of objects, but not necessarily with fixed-order series, and extend the technique to other musical dimensions, such as duration, dynamics, and timbre.
20th-century classical music describes art music that was written nominally from 1901 to 2000, inclusive. Musical style diverged during the 20th century as it never had previously. So this century was without a dominant style. Modernism, impressionism, and post-romanticism can all be traced to the decades before the turn of the 20th century, but can be included because they evolved beyond the musical boundaries of the 19th-century styles that were part of the earlier common practice period. Neoclassicism and expressionism came mostly after 1900. Minimalism started much later in the century and can be seen as a change from the modern to post-modern era, although some date post-modernism from as early as about 1930. Aleatory, atonality, serialism, musique concrète, electronic music, and concept music were all developed during the century. Jazz and folk music became important influences on many composers during this century.
Process music is music that arises from a process. It may make that process audible to the listener, or the process may be concealed.
Electroacoustic music is a genre of popular and Western art music in which composers use technology to manipulate the timbres of acoustic sounds, sometimes by using audio signal processing, such as reverb or harmonizing, on acoustical instruments. It originated around the middle of the 20th century, following the incorporation of electric sound production into compositional practice. The initial developments in electroacoustic music composition to fixed media during the 20th century are associated with the activities of the Groupe de recherches musicales at the ORTF in Paris, the home of musique concrète, the Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne, where the focus was on the composition of elektronische Musik, and the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City, where tape music, electronic music, and computer music were all explored. Practical electronic music instruments began to appear in the early 20th century.
Pierre-Laurent Aimard is a French pianist.
In musical composition, a sound massis the result of compositional techniques, in which, "the importance of individual pitches", is minimized, "in preference for texture, timbre, and dynamics as primary shapers of gesture and impact", obscuring, "the boundary between sound and noise".
Kreuzspiel (Crossplay) is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen written for oboe, bass clarinet, piano and four percussionists in 1951. It is assigned the number 1/7 in the composer's catalogue of works.
Darmstadt School refers to a group of composers who were associated with the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music from the early 1950s to the early 1960s in Darmstadt, Germany, and who shared some aesthetic attitudes. Initially, this included only Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, but others came to be added, in various ways. The term does not refer to an educational institution.
In music, moment form is defined as "a mosaic of moments", and, in turn, a moment is defined as a "self-contained (quasi-)independent section, set off from other sections by discontinuities".
Gruppen for three orchestras (1955–57) is amongst the best-known compositions of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 6 in the composer's catalog of works. Gruppen is "a landmark in 20th-century music ... probably the first work of the post-war generation of composers in which technique and imagination combine on the highest level to produce an undisputable masterpiece".
Structures I (1952) and Structures II (1961) are two related works for two pianos, composed by the French composer Pierre Boulez.
Die Reihe was a German-language music academic journal, edited by Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen and published by Universal Edition (Vienna) between 1955 and 1962. An English edition was published, under the original German title, between 1957 and 1968 by the Theodore Presser Company in association with Universal Edition (London). A related book series titled "Bücher der Reihe" was begun, but only one title ever appeared in it, Herbert Eimert's Grundlagen der musikalischen Reihentechnik.
Punctualism is a style of musical composition prevalent in Europe between 1949 and 1955 "whose structures are predominantly effected from tone to tone, without superordinate formal conceptions coming to bear". In simpler terms: "music that consists of separately formed particles—however complexly these may be composed—[is called] punctual music, as opposed to linear, or group-formed, or mass-formed music", bolding in the source). This was accomplished by assigning to each note in a composition values drawn from scales of pitch, duration, dynamics, and attack characteristics, resulting in a "stronger individualizing of separate tones". Another important factor was maintaining discrete values in all parameters of the music. Punctual dynamics, for example
mean that all dynamic degrees are fixed; one point will be linked directly to another on the chosen scale, without any intervening transition or gesture. Line-dynamics, on the other hand, involve the transitions from one given amplitude to another: crescendo, decrescendo and their combinations. This second category can be defined as a dynamic glissando, comparable to glissandi of pitch and of tempi.
Sonata for Two Pianos (1950–51), also called simply Opus 1 or Nummer 1, is a chamber music work by Belgian composer Karel Goeyvaerts, and a seminal work in the early history of European serialism.
Plus-Minus, 2 × 7 pages for realisation, is a composition for one or several performers by Karlheinz Stockhausen, first written in 1963 and redrafted in 1974. It is Nr. 14 in the composer's catalogue of works, and has a variable performing length that depends on the version worked out from the given materials. The score is dedicated to Mary Bauermeister.
A duration row or duration series is an ordering of a set of durations, in analogy with the tone row or twelve-tone set.
Drei Lieder, for alto voice and chamber orchestra, is a song cycle by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written while he was still a conservatory student in 1950. In the composer's catalogue of works, it bears the number 1/10.
Leonard David Stein was a musicologist, pianist, conductor, university teacher, and influential in promoting contemporary music on the American West Coast. He was for years Arnold Schoenberg's assistant, music director of the Schoenberg Institute at USC, and among the foremost authorities on Schoenberg's music. He was also an influential teacher in the lives of many younger composers, such as the influential minimalist La Monte Young.