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Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century The Postwar Avant-Garde.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century The Postwar Avant-Garde."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 22: The Late Twentieth Century The Postwar Avant-Garde

2 Key Terms Postwar avant-garde Sound complexes Musique concrète Architecture Chance music Noise

3 The Postwar Avant-Garde (1) After World War II, modernist composers emerged from all corners of the globe Stockhausen (Germany), Messiaen & Boulez (France), Berio (Italy), Xenakis (Greece), Ligeti (Hungary), Lutoslawski & Penderecki (Poland), Takemitsu (Japan), and Babbitt, Cage, & Carter (United States) Many are still actively composing!

4 The Postwar Avant-Garde (2) Some works from modernism’s 1st phase are now “classics” Berg’s Wozzeck, Bartók’s string quartets, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring Postwar modernists have not yet gained a firm place in the repertory Or in the hearts of most listeners …in the United States, at least

5 György Ligeti (b. 1923) Trained at Budapest Academy of Music Appointed professor there as a young man Unable to pursue his unique sound vision Due to Communist restrictions in Hungary Ligeti left for the West in 1956 Was past 30 before his music became known 1960s saw growing recognition in the U.S. & Europe Use of his music in 2001: A Space Odyssey brought international fame

6 Sound Complexes His music is based on “sound complexes” Blocks of sounds – no clear pitches, chords, tonality, melodies, or even rhythm Ligeti is more like a sculptor than a painter A music of surging & receding textures & colors

7 Ligeti, Lux aeterna For a chorus of 16 solo singers a cappella Words from the old Latin Requiem Mass Polyphony & canon – Renaissance features! Voices create sound complexes that expand & contract in various ways Astonishing rich sonorities in the ebb & flow Form made of four lengthy sound surges Nos. 1 & 4 balance & parallel each other with a very high note added halfway through Used in 2001: A Space Odyssey

8 Edgard Varèse ( ) Found his voice in the U.S. in the 1920s One of the most radical composers of his day New approaches to rhythm & sonority – he worked with sound objects Ionisation the 1st major percussion work 13 percussionists play 45 instruments A musical work made entirely of “noises” His growing vision outstripped the means available in the mid-1930s Unable to compose again until the 1950s

9 Varèse, Poème électronique Advances in electronic music gave Varèse the tools he needed to compose again Déserts ( ), Poème électronique (1958) Poème électronique is a masterpiece of early electronic music Mixes musique concrète & electronically generated sounds Uses humming, singing, bells, organ, & a train Punctuated with percussive rhythms At the end a 3-note sliding motive & siren give way to a violent noise crescendo

10 Modernist Music and Architecture Poème électronique was part of a novel, extraordinary multimedia experience Written for Philips Radio exhibit at 1958 Brussels World Fair Pavilion designed by modernist architect Le Corbusier, assisted by Xenakis Colored lights & images were projected Varèse’s 3-track tape was played from 425 speakers As visitors walked through, sounds, lights, & images came at them from different angles

11 John Cage ( ) The father of chance music Studied with Schoenberg in California Early works for percussion, prepared piano Wrote his 1st chance work in 1951 Cage challenged the assumptions of traditional music Should music differ from everyday sounds? Why use “musical” sounds instead of noises? Is a “purposeful order” really more interesting than leaving it to chance?

12 Cage, 4’ 33” Cage’s most controversial work For any number of players Performer(s) sits silently for 4’33” Ambient sounds become the composition Is silence even possible? There is always something to listen to Do we really listen, or do we dismiss it if it is not “musical” or “interesting”? Cage wants us to open our ears – to listen afresh to all of life’s unpredictable, surprising sounds!


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