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Expansion of Music in the 20th Century There are many elements that led to the expansion of music in the 20th Century. In some ways these elements were all linked to each other and it is difficult to say what events or ideas triggered the huge development of music. For example, World War I and II in the first half of the century lead to the rapid development of technology and communications as well as, eventually, political and social freedom, all aspects which have created changes and growth. The great advances in technology were in part responsible for globalism, although nationalism was also partly a product of the wars. The advent of the Great Wars also produced great emotion.
The father of 20th Century music is often said to be Claude Debussy, although he began composing in 1894. Debussy was an Impressionist composer and to create his impressionistic sounds, Debussy had to let go of the traditional chords and chord patterns of previous centuries. He failed composition at the Paris Conservatory because of his irregular harmonies and different style. One of Debussy’s major innovations was his use of the whole-tone scale. This particular type of scale is said to have a surreal quality, and lacks the sound of a specific key. This keyless quality was described as atonal or pantonal meaning respectively, without key or in all keys at once. The exhaustion of tonal music was possibly one of the greatest expansions of music in the 20th Century. It was developed from a state of total disregard for keys to an alternative system that Schoenberg described as “Composition with twelve notes related only to one another.” This method is now commonly known as Serialism as the technique has developed further.
Serialism was extended after World War II to include note lengths and dynamics as well as tone. Although this idea was used strictly at first, it is used freely today with less emphasis on complete unpredictability. It was at this time that electronic machines became available that would enable serial music to be created by machines alone, without need for Human sentiment. The first synthesised music was composed in Paris in 1948 by Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, who recorded onto discs ordinary sounds like dustbins being collected and heartbeats etc. and manipulated the dynamics and tempo of the sounds to create what they called “Concrete Music”. When tape recorders and synthesisers became readily available after the 1950s, much more sophisticated music could be created and studios of electronic music were set up all over the world.
In the aftermath of World War II, most of Europe and many other countries found resuming civilised peace-time activity difficult with the lack of resources like records and sheet music and the apparent lost time which the war had taken up. Many musicians were ignorant of 20th century masterpiece like Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Bartok’s string quartets. Radio broadcasters and International music schools helped to re-educate the generation that had missed out on progressive 20th Century music.
Stravinsky is sometimes considered the most important 20th Century composer because of his wild experimentation with sounds and timbres and his development of a number of musical styles, including the Neo-Classical style. His ballet masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, caused a huge uproar when it premiered in 1913.
After the 20th Century’s complete liberation from traditional musical styles and methods, including everything from tonality to notation there is no longer a common musical language between composers, although traditional style composers are still quite common as well as the more experimental composers.
Elements of Baroque, Classical and 20th Century Music 1
|Melody||Often spun out into long, flowing lines with many ornaments.||Melody often above chordal accompaniment. An emphasis of grace and beauty.||The long, winding melodies of the romantic era are abandoned. There is an irregular, open style.|
|Texture||At first a switch to lighter homophony but polyphony soon returns and is dominant.||At first thin in texture. Lighter, clearer texture, less complicated.||Sometimes thick and deep and used in place of harmonies etc. Texture is a fundamental element.|
|Rhythm||Energetic, pulsing rhythms drive the music.||More variety and contrast. More experimentation with different note lengths.||Brought into the foreground of musical elements. Industrial, urban feel. Jagged, staccato rhythms.|
|Style||Monody-recitative, basso continuo. Contrapuntal style- stile antico.||Importance given to instrumental music- serenades, string quartets, symphonies etc.||Serialism and synthesised as well as traditional styles and revivals like neo-classicism.|
|Harmony||Beginning to use unexpected harmonies, Mode system is disused in the 17th Century.||Balanced, graceful and fairly simple. Homophonic.||Use of polytonality, pan-diatonic system and atonality as well as simple pop-music harmonies.|
|Structure||Invention of opera, oratorio, fugue, suite, sonata, concerto and concerto grosso.||Freer use of form, still formal. Symphony form evolves from concerto form.||Innovative. Forms like fugue, rondo and sonata-allegro are popular during first half. Alleatoric.|
|Dynamics||Terraced dynamics, echo effects, loud dynamics, contrasted with soft.||Use of crescendos and sforzandos. More variety and contrast.||Like texture and rhythm, dynamics become an integral part of 20th Century music. Complete contrasts.|
|Timbre||Use of contrasts (especially concertos) of few instruments against many. Harpsichord.||Piano revolutionises keyboards. Orchestra divided into four distinct sections.||Rapid advance of technology. Electric instruments, synthesisers, computer-produced sounds etc.|
Contrasts of Elements between: Bach: Concerto no. 5 Mozart: Piano Concerto 1st Movement No. 23 in A Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra 1st Movement
Contrasts of Elements between: Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 4
Biographical Outlines of: Bach Mozart Bartok
Bach (b.1685-d.1750) Johann Sebastian Bach was a German organist and composer of the baroque era, one of the greatest and most productive geniuses in the history of Western music.
In 1700 Bach began to earn his own living as a chorister at the Church of Saint Michael in Lüneburg. In 1703 he became a violinist in the chamber orchestra of Prince Johann Ernst of Weimar, but later that year he moved to Arnstadt, where he became church organist. In October 1705, Bach secured a one-month leave of absence in order to study with the renowned Danish-born German organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude, who was then in Lübeck and whose organ music greatly influenced Bach's.
In 1707 he married his second cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, and went to Mülhausen as organist in the Church of Saint Blasius. He went back to Weimar to spend the next year as organist and violinist at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst and remained there for the next nine years, becoming concertmaster of the court orchestra in 1714.
Bach moved to Leipzig in 1723 and spent the rest of his life there. Bach found his job as musical director and choirmaster of Saint Thomas's church and church school in Leipzig unsatisfactory in several ways. He had constant disagreements with the town council, and neither the council nor the populace appreciated his musical genius. Bach's sight began to fail in the last year of his life, and he died on July 28, 1750, after undergoing an unsuccessful eye operation.
Posthumously, Bach was remembered as an virtuoso organist rather than a composer of great skill and importance, as he was one of the most highly skilled organists who ever lived. A revival of interest in Bach’s works came with the admiration of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven and Mendelssohn’s arrangement for a performance of the Passion of St. Matthew in 1829.
Bach was largely self-taught in musical composition. Bach's music is significant because of the high level of intellect in his compositions. Bach was greatly skilled at writing programme music, such as an undulating melody to represent the sea, or a canon to describe the Christians following the teaching of Jesus.
Bach was one of the most prolific composers. His music is a fine mixture of technical dexterity and beautiful melodies. His music is full of counterpoint and he was an expert at the fugue. This is why his music is so popular today and why the Classical composers had great interest in him.
Mozart (b.1756 d.1791) From the very beginning of his life in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a master of music. His father, Leopold Mozart, sacrificed his own career as a respected composer and theorist so he could concentrate on fostering his prodigy son’s talents. He taught Mozart the violin, piano and musical theory, all of which Mozart excelled at. At age four, Mozart was writing piano concertos and he completed his first opera, Batien and Bastienne when he was eleven.
Mozart spent most of his childhood touring Europe with his sister and he got his first job at age thirteen for the Archbishop of Salzburg. He worked here for twelve years until the archbishop dismissed him because he was irked by Mozart’s constant angling for a better job. Mozart moved to Vienna, the musical capital of the world at the time. He had been successful there as a child prodigy but as an adult had difficulty finding work because royal commissions were becoming more and more scarce.
It was in Vienna that Mozart met Haydn, who took Mozart under his wing and nurtured Mozart'’ talents like a second father. To make a living, Mozart wrote operas which were reaching the height of their popularity. Musical ideas sprang from Mozart’s mind. His only task in composing was actually writing the music down on paper. Around this time he fell in love with a woman called Aloysia Weber. He asked her to marry him but she declined, and so he married her sister Constanze instead. For their wedding, Mozart wrote his great C-minor Mass.
Mozart has more success as a composer when he visited Prague. He was commissioned to write several operas and he enjoyed a successful career.
Mozart was convinced while he was writing his Requiem commissioned by an unnamed stranger that it was his own requiem, and he was right. He raced to finish it but in the end only completed a few movements and a sketchy outline of the rest of the piece. He died probably from poor health when he was just thirty five years old. The Requiem was completed by one of Mozart’s pupils, Sussmayr.
Bartok (b.1881 d.1945) Béla Bartók was born in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (now Sînnicolau, Romania), on the 25th of March, 1881. When he was 18 he was accepted into the Budapest Royal Academy of Music and he began his career as a concert pianist. This was also around the time when he began composing. Bartok was very influenced by Strauss’ music. In 1905 He met Zoltan Kodaly and began collecting and recording Hungarian folk music. Two years later he became a professor of the piano at the Budapest Royal Academy. A few years later he was married, but it was not until 1917 that The Wooden Prince became the first of his compositions to be accepted. He continued to compose and tour as a pianist for the next twenty-seven years and was divorced and remarried. In 1940 Bartok emigrated to the USA where his health quickly began to deteriorate. In 1943 Bartok wrote his famous and intentionally popular Concerto for Orchestra. Then in 1945 he died in New York on the 26th September.
Bartok’s compositions were not fully appreciated during his own lifetime but he is now considered one of the most prolific composers in 20th Century classical music. His music is important in part because of its distinct Hungarian feel which he drew from his extensive knowledge of Hungarian folk music, having travelled around Hungary recording it. His music represents the emergence of Hungary as one of Europe’s great musical nations.
Bartók acknowledged his musical debt to the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and the French composer Claude Debussy, and his tone poem Kossuth (1904) shows the influence of the German composer Richard Strauss. About 1905 Bartók realised that what generally passed as Hungarian folk music was actually gypsy music arranged according to conventional Central European standards. With his friend the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, Bartók systematically collected and analysed Hungarian and other folk music, a collaboration that resulted in 12 volumes of folk songs.
Bartók rarely incorporated folk songs into his compositions; rather, he assimilated into a powerful personal style the scales and melodic contours and the driving, often asymmetrical rhythms of Balkan and Hungarian folk music. His music always has a tonal centre, but this is usually established in personal, only partially traditional ways.
The six-volume Mikrokosmos (1935), consisting of 150 progressively graded piano pieces, constitutes a summary of his development, as do his six string quartets, considered among the most important string quartets after those of Ludwig van Beethoven. Bartók did research at Columbia University (1940-41) and taught music in New York City, living in financial stress. He died of leukaemia in New York City, September 26, 1945.
Differences: Bach, Mozart, Bartók1
Assignment Completed By: Wolff, © June 2000 A: Yr 12 Musical Knowledge Research Assignment 24/05/00/Joan