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The Origins of Modernism

Seminar ListAbstract • PreparationMain Text

For many, the music of the late twentieth century, with some even the early twentieth century, can present a problem. The music of composers such as Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti, John Cage and others seems to be so far from the music of the late nineteenth century - music by composers such as Brahms, Wagner and Mahler.

What happened to music 'between' these 'periods'? Did something equivalent to an musical asteroid hit the west and destroy romanticism - or is there a link between these styles - links even with earlier styles and periods?

This seminar seeks to prepare the ground for an understanding of the music of the twentieth century.


It would be useful to acquaint yourselves with some of the works/biographies of the following composers:

This would be useful anyway, whether for this or any other study of music.

Main Text

Main text (not usually available until after the lecture).


Richard Teruskin, Stravinsky and the Russian Tradition, OUP