Modern composers in the classical tradition all faced a
common challenge-how to secure a place in an
increasingly crowded repertoire by writing works that
performers, audiences, and critics deemed worthy of
performance alongside the classics of the past. To succeed,
their music had to meet the criteria established by the
classics: to be works of high quality that participated in the tradition of
serious art music; that had lasting value, rewarding both performers and
listeners through many rehearings and close study; and that proclaimed a
distinctive musical personality. These criteria were broad enough that
composers as diverse as Mahler, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Sibelius,
Rachmaninov, and Scriabin could each win an enduring position in the
repertoire, as we saw in the previous chapter.
In the years just before and after World War I, a younger group of
composers carried out a more radical break from the musical language of
the past than their predecessors or contemporaries had, while
maintaining strong links to the tradition. These composers, who became
known as modernists, reassessed inherited conventions as profoundly
as the modernists in art who pioneered expressionism, cubism, and
abstract art. Modernists in both art and music did not aim to please
viewers or listeners on first sight or first hearing, an attribute that had
always been considered essential. Instead, they sought to challenge our
perceptions and capacities, providing an experience that would be
impossible through traditional means. Modernists offered an implicit
critique of mass culture and easily digested art, and their writings often
show it. These composers saw no contradiction in claiming the masters
of the past as models. In fact, they saw their own work as continuing what the
pathbreaking classical composers had started, not as overthrowing that tradition.
The paradox of all modern classical music, that it must partake of the
tradition yet offer something new, is especially acute in the work of modernist
composers, who are often most radical in the ways they interpret and remake
Rather than taking up the topics in this chapter one by one, we will introduce
them in the context of discussing six modernist composers who are
among the best known and most influential of the entire century. Arnold
Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky were leaders of two branches of modernism
that often seem to be at opposite poles but that faced common concerns.
Schoenberg’s students Alban Berg and Anton Webern took their teacher’s
ideas in individual directions. Béla Bartók and Charles Ives both developed
unique combinations of nationalism and modernism within the classical tradition.
Born between 1874 and 1885, all six began by writing tonal music in
late Romantic styles, then devised new and distinctive post-tonal idioms that
won them a central place in the world of modern music.
Challenge of Modernism
Composers in the early twentieth century faced the challenge of creating works worthy of performance alongside the classics of the past.
The music had to be of high quality in the tradition of serious art music.
The music had to have lasting value that rewarded performers and listeners through multiple hearings and study.
These criteria were broad enough to apply to a large number of composers.
Younger composers wanted a more radical break from the past.
Known as modernists, these composers reassessed inherited conventions.
Modernists did not aim to please listeners on first hearing.
They challenged perceptions and capacities.
Modernists were critical of easily digested art and saw their own work as continuing the classical traditions.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) (see HWM biography, page 803, and Figure 31.1)
Schoenberg moved the German classical tradition toward atonality.
Atonality is a term for music that avoids tonal centers.
He later developed the twelve-tone method for the systematic ordering of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale.
Schoenberg was born in Vienna, the son of a Jewish shopkeeper.
In his younger years, he largely taught himself.
Richard Strauss got him a teaching job in Berlin (1901-03).
Upon his return to Vienna in 1904, he began teaching; his two most famous students were Berg and Webern.
He had support from Mahler, but met resistance from others.
He developed friendships with a number of expressionist painters, and he himself painted (see HWM Figure 31.1).
He formulated the twelve-tone method in the early 1920s.
He had converted to Lutheranism, but converted back to Judaism and moved to France in 1933.
He came to the United States in 1934 and taught at UCLA.
He retired from teaching in 1944 at the age of seventy and died on July 13, 1951.
Schoenberg's earliest works are tonal in the late Romantic style.
Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night, 1899), a tone poem for string sextet
Pelleas und Melisande (1902-03), a symphonic poem
Gurrelieder (Songs of Gurre, 1900-01, orchestration 1911), a cantata
He later turned away from gigantism toward chamber music.
He applied the principal of developing variation to his own works, such as the String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7.
The one-movement quartet combines an enlarged sonata form with the standard four movements of a classical work, similar to Liszt's Piano Sonata in B Minor.
This work exemplifies Schoenberg's goal of continuing tradition but with a new voice (see HWM Source Reading, page 804).
Nonrepetition between and within pieces was Schoenberg's guiding principle.
Schoenberg began composing atonal music in 1908.
He felt that the prolonged dissonances in recent music had weakened the pull of the tonic and exhausted tonality.
"The emancipation of the dissonance" was Schoenberg's concept of freeing dissonance from its need to resolve to a consonance.
Schoenberg used three methods to create unity without tonality:
Integration of harmony and melody
Gestures from tonal music are used to connect with traditions.
Saget mir, auf welchem Pfade (Tell me on which path) from the Book of the Hanging Gardens, Op. 15 (1908-09) (see HWM Example 31.1)
Based on a poem by symbolist Stefan George, this is one of his first completely atonal works.
The sense of floating in harmonic space is well suited to the vague eroticism of the poetry.
Links to Germanic tradition
Scoring for piano and voice
Rise and fall of the vocal melody
Divisions into phrases
Use of dynamics to shape phrases
Descending gestures to indicate cadences
Developing variation is apparent in voice and accompaniment.
This song can be analyzed in terms of pitch-class sets.
Pitch-class: any note of a chromatic scale and its enharmonic equivalent
Set: a collection of pitches that can be transposed, inverted, and arranged in any order to generate melodies and harmonies
The song also exemplifies chromatic saturation, which uses all twelve pitch-classes within a segment of music.
Atonal works completed in 1909
Book of the Hanging Gardens
Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11
Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16
Erwartung (Expectation), Op. 17
A one-character opera for soprano
Exaggerated gestures and unrelenting dissonance parallel expressionism (see HWM Music in Context, pages 808-09, and Figure 31.2).
As befitting a nightmare, the work is atonal and has no themes or reference to traditional forms.
Pierrot lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot, 1912)
This cycle of twenty-one songs is based on German translations of the Belgian Albert Giraud's symbolist poetry.
The first two lines of each poem function as a refrain; they are repeated in lines 7-8, and line 1 appears as line 13.
Schoenberg typically sets the returning lines with a variant of the original music at the same pitch level.
Schoenberg scored the cycle for speaker and a chamber ensemble of five performers who play nine instruments.
The voice declaims the text in Sprechstimme ("speaking voice"), which approximates the written pitches with gliding speech tones.
The combination of instruments is unique for each song.
The music is atonal.
Schoenberg creates coherence through a developing variation method, which continuously draws out new variants of a basic idea presented at the outset.
Many songs evoke old forms, genres, or techniques.
Nacht (Night, NAWM 141a) from Pierrot lunaire
Pierrot sees giant black moths casting gloom over the world.
The basic motive is a rising minor third followed by a descending major third.
The motive reappears constantly, often overlapping itself, such as in the beginning.
The motive is subject to inversion and retrograde.
Schoenberg called this song a passacaglia, a set of variations over a three-note pattern.
The ostinato is stated in measures 4-6.
It reappears, varied, over ten more times.
At the end, the original complex of overlapping statements repeats at pitch.
Despite the atonal treatment, Schoenberg established a strong tonal center.
Enthauptung (Beheading, NAWM 141b) from Pierrot lunaire
Pierrot imagines that he is beheaded by a moonbeam for his crimes.
The first five measures depict the sweep of the scimitar and include both whole-tone scales.
The next ten measures suggest the atmosphere of the moonlit night and Pierrot scurrying to avoid the moonbeam.
The initial ideas are varied constantly throughout.
Augmented chords suggest the image of knocking knees (measure 17).
The movement ends with the downward runs from measures 3-4 at the same pitch level, but now in the piano.
An instrumental epilogue recalls the music of song No. 7.
In the twelve-tone method, pitches are related to each other, not to a tonic.
The basis of twelve-tone composition is a row or series.
A row contains the twelve pitch-classes arranged in an order.
The pitches of the row may sound successively or simultaneously.
The composer usually states all of the pitches in a row before going to another row.
The original version of the row is called the prime.
The row can also be used in inversion (inverted intervals), retrograde (backward), and retrograde inversion.
With this system he continued to explore the principal methods of atonality.
Integration of harmony and melody
Schoenberg soon applied these techniques to pieces in classical structures and genres.
In composing sonata forms, Schoenberg had to find an analogue to modulation, as exemplified in his Fourth String Quartet (see HWM Example 31.3).
The row is designed so that the last six notes (the second hexachord) is an inversion of the first six.
This restriction allows him to establish a harmonic region.
The second theme appears in a region that is a fifth higher.
Piano Suite, Op. 25 (1921-23) (see NAWM 142 and HWM Example 31.2)
The prelude of this suite is Schoenberg's first twelve-tone piece.
Each movement uses the same eight forms of a row.
Two versions of the prime row: P-O, P-6.
Two inversions of the row: I-0, I-6
Four retrogrades, one for each of the above.
Each row either begins or ends with an E or B-flat.
Each prime or inverted row features the tritone G-D-flat in notes 3 and 4.
With this limited number of transpositions, Schoenberg creates a sense of staying in a single key, a typical practice of the Baroque suite.
Rows are used both melodically and harmonically.
Schoenberg often breaks the row into groups of four notes, called tetrachords.
The first four notes of R-0 spell B-A-C-H (in German nomenclature, B is B-flat and H is B-natural); this is a salute to the master of Baroque suites.
The beginning of the prelude manipulates tetrachords in a contrapuntal fashion.
The minuet follows a strict dance form and reflects Baroque conventions.
The trio is lighter in texture, featuring an inverted two-part canon that evokes the spirit of a Bach invention.
The beginning of the minuet presents two-measure phrases in antecedent-consequent relationships.
The systematic grouping of the row is analogous to chord progressions in tonal music.
The standard binary form is followed, except for the lack of repeat in the second section.
The return of the opening material in measures 29-31 suggests a rounded binary form.
Late tonal works
Some of Schoenberg's works from the 1930s and 1940s are tonal.
He recomposed two works from the eighteenth century, and their treatment is as radical as the twelve-tone music.
Schoenberg as modernist
His choices in facing the conflict between classic traditions and modernism shaped the course of music in the twentieth century.
His music won a central place in the modernist tradition, but was unpopular with most listeners.
With his music we arrive at the widest gulf between audiences and connoisseurs in their evaluation of music.
Schoenberg and his students Berg and Webern, both natives of Vienna, were known as the Second Viennese School.
Alban Berg (1885-1935) (see HWM Figure 31.3)
Berg began studying with Schoenberg in 1904 at the age of nineteen.
He achieved greater popular success than Schoenberg by infusing the music with expressive gestures in the tradition of Mahler and Strauss.
Berg's expressionistic opera Wozzeck, which premiered in 1925, was one of the most successful modern operas and by far the most popular atonal opera.
The story is adapted from a nineteenth-century play by Georg Büchner.
The play is based on a real event in which a man who may have been insane was executed for killing the woman he lived with.
Incomplete at Büchner's death in 1837, the play was finally staged in 1913.
Berg created his own libretto and completed the music in 1922.
The music is atonal, not twelve-tone, and includes some Sprechtstimme.
Berg employs leitmotives that are identified with the main characters (see HWM Example 31.4a).
Each of the three acts has five scenes linked by interludes; the music is continuous.
The first act includes a Baroque suite, a rhapsody, a march and lullaby, a passacaglia, and a rondo.
The second act is a symphony in five movements and includes a sonata form, fantasia and fugue, ternary slow movement, scherzo, and rondo.
Act III is a series of inventions: on a theme (seven variations and a fugue), on a note (B), on a rhythm, on a chord, on a key, and on a duration.
The invention on a key is the Mahlerian interlude before the final scene, the longest interlude of the opera.
Act III, scene 3 (see NAWM 143 and HWM Example 31.4b)
Wozzeck sits in a tavern, having just murdered Marie.
In this invention on a rhythm, an out-of-tune onstage piano introduces the basic rhythmic pattern.
Throughout the scene, the rhythmic pattern repeats incessantly, sometimes in augmentation or diminution.
By the end, all are singing the scene's main rhythm.
Berg maintains atonality, but makes references to recognizable tonal styles.
After Wozzeck, Berg adopted the twelve-tone system.
Berg chose rows that allowed for tonal-sounding chords and progressions.
Principal twelve-tone works
Lyric Suite for string quartet (1925-26)
Violin Concerto (1935)
Lulu (1928-35), his second opera
Violin Concerto (see HWM Example 31.5)
The row has four interlocking minor and major triads.
The piece begins with evocations of a violin tuning its open strings.
Berg also uses a Viennese waltz style, a folk song, and a Bach chorale, Es ist genug.
The chorale, which alludes to the death of Manon Gropius, contains three rising steps, like the end of the row.
Anton Webern (1883-1945) (see HWM Figure 31.4)
Webern began studying with Schoenberg in 1904, the same year as Berg.
He also studied musicology at the University of Vienna and received a Ph.D. in 1906.
His concept of music history influenced his development.
He felt that evolution in art was necessary and that history can only move forward, not revisit events or ideas of the past.
The Path to the New Music is a series of lectures in which Webern argued that twelve-tone music was the inevitable result of music's evolution.
His beliefs gave him the confidence to continue composing despite much opposition; he saw himself as a researcher making new discoveries.
Webern's works were widely influential following World War II.
Works and styles
Webern passed through the stages of late Romantic, chromaticism, atonality, and twelve-tone organization.
He began the last phase in 1925 with the songs of Op. 17.
He wrote equally for voice and instruments, usually writing for small chamber ensembles.
His music is extremely concentrated.
Some of his works are only a few measures long.
His entire mature output takes less than four hours to play.
His texture has been described as pointillistic, since it often features only one to four notes in succession on the same instrument.
The dynamics seldom rise above forte.
Treatment of the row
He avoided using rows with tonal implications.
He frequently employed canons in inversion or retrograde.
Symphony, Op. 21, first movement (see NAWM 144 and HWM Example 31.6)
The work is scored for a small chamber orchestra.
Each of its two movements is in a traditional classical form.
The first movement is a sonata form.
The second movement is a theme with seven variations.
The entire first movement also has a double canon in inversion.
The row is a palindrome, with the intervals reading the same forward and backward.
Webern reconceives the sonata form in new terms.
Rather than two contrasting themes, Webern presents a contrast of character between canon 1 and canon 2.
The development section is a palindrome.
The recapitulation presents the same succession of rows as the exposition, but with new rhythms and registers.
He employs a succession of timbres similar to Schoenberg's concept of Klangfarbenmelodie (tone-color melody), in which changes of tone color are perceived as parallel to changing pitches in a melody.
At times there is just one note per instrument, creating tiny points of sound, which has been described as pointillism.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) (see HWM biography, page 820, and Figure 31.5)
Stravinsky created an individual voice by developing several traits, most from Russian traditions.
Undermining meter through unpredictable accents and rapid changes of meter
Static blocks of sound juxtaposed or layered
Discontinuity and interruption
Dissonance based on diatonic, octatonic, and other collections
Dry, antilyrical, but colorful use of instruments
Stravinsky forged these traits during his Russian period.
He became arguably the most important composer of his time.
Stravinsky was born near St. Petersburg to a well-to-do musical family.
He studied composition and orchestration privately with Rimsky-Korsakov.
Sergei Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky to compose for the Ballet Russes.
Stravinsky moved to Paris in 1911 and remained there after the Russian Revolution.
Capitalizing on the notoriety of the Rite of Spring, Stravinsky performed tirelessly as a pianist and conductor, which increased his international recognition.
He eventually settled in Hollywood, and several of his pieces incorporate American styles.
Russian Period (to 1918)
The Firebird (1910)
The ballet is based on Russian folk tales.
Human characters are portrayed with diatonic music and supernatural creatures with octatonic or chromatic music.
The opening scene presents blocks of static harmony with repetitive melodic and rhythmic patterns.
Seemingly unrelated musical events interrupt each other, creating an aural equivalent to Picasso's cubism.
Stravinsky borrows several Russian folk tunes and simulates folk harmony (see HWM Example 31.7).
To depict the supernatural, Stravinsky draws upon a biting octatonic sound.
The "Petrushka chord" is derived from an octatonic scale (see HWM Example 31.8).
The Rite of Spring (1911-13)
The ballet, set in prehistoric Russia, does not tell a story, but shows a fertility ritual in which an adolescent girl is chosen for sacrifice and dances herself to death.
Nikolay Roerich designed the sets and costumes, and Vaclav Nijinsky was the choreographer.
The scenario, choreography, and music are marked by primitivism, a deliberate representation of the crude and uncultured (see HWM Figure 31.6).
The audience at the premiere broke into a riot (see HWM Source Reading, page 824).
The music has since become one of Stravinsky's most commonly performed works.
Danse des adolescents (Dance of the Adolescent Girls) from The Rite of Spring (see NAWM 145a and HWM Example 31.9)
The dissonant opening chord uses all seven notes of the A-flat harmonic minor scale.
The emphasis on pure pulse contributes to the sense of primitivism.
The metrical hierarchy of beats is negated as each pulse is played with the same strength.
Unpredictable accents destroy any sense of regularity.
The entire scene is built from ostinatos that create static blocks of sound.
Stravinsky builds up textures by layering two or more strands of music on top of each other.
The contrasting blocks of sound share several pitches, which lend a sense of continuity.
The movement incorporates a Russian folk tune (measure 43) and two folklike melodies.
Stravinsky often links a motive with a specific instrumentation.
Stravinsky prefers a dry, rather than lush, timbre in his orchestration.
Danse sacrale (Sacrificial Dance) from The Rite of Spring (see NAWM 145b)
This is the last dance of the ballet.
Stravinsky adopts two additional strategies that reduce meter to pulse.
Rapidly changing meters
Unpredictable alternation of notes with rests
The opening, section A
The main idea (measures 2-5) is repeated many times.
Other similar figures alternate with the main idea.
Section B begins in measure 34.
The section begins softly with pulsing chords and a chromatic melodic idea.
The section builds to a frightening climax (measures 91-92).
It suddenly returns to the opening dynamic and begins to build again.
The A section returns, transposed down a semitone (measure 116).
A new section begins at measure 149.
The section features percussion instruments.
A whole-tone scale, introduced by the horns (measure 154), is transformed into a folklike melody (measures 160-171).
The opening of section A briefly interrupts (measures 174-80).
A bass ostinato is introduced at measure 203, and the material of section A builds to a final climax.
L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale, 1918)
Wartime economy forced Stravinsky to turn to small musical ensembles.
This ballet is scored for six solo instruments and percussion.
Using dance movements, such as a tango, waltz, and ragtime, Stravinsky discovered ways to imitate familiar styles within his own musical style.
Neoclassicism denotes a broad movement that took place from the 1910s to the 1950s.
Composers revived, imitated, or evoked styles, genres, and forms of pre-Romantic music, particularly from the eighteenth century.
Neoclassicism rejected the high emotions of Romanticism.
Stravinsky used neoclassicism as a new avenue for his own distinctive style.
Stravinsky's neoclassic music has an emotional detachment and can be seen as anti-Romantic.
Neoclassical period (1919-1951)
Pulcinella (1919), a ballet commissioned by Diaghilev
The work consists of orchestrations of pieces by Pergolesi, an eighteenth-century composer.
Through orchestrating Pergolesi's pieces, Stravinsky discovered the past.
Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920)
This work features many of the same methods as The Rite of Spring, but unlike The Rite of Spring, it is an abstract composition.
Along with Pulcinella, this work marks the beginning of Stravinsky's neoclassicism.
He became the leading composer in the neoclassic style, which culminated in the opera The Rake's Progress (1951).
Symphony of Psalms, first movement (1930; see NAWM 146 and HWM Example 31.10)
Symphony of Psalms is a three-movement work for mixed chorus and orchestra that uses psalms from the Latin Vulgate Bible.
Fully developed fugue in the second movement
Stravinsky maintains an objective rather than emotional sound; he omits violins, viola, and clarinets.
Some traits remain from the Rite, such as changing meters and unexpected rests.
But the music is less dissonant and has characteristics of earlier music, such as the Gregorian chant style at the entrance of the voices.
The juxtaposition of contrasting blocks of material articulates an abstract form.
The movement alternates two main sections, and there is a contrasting middle section (see diagram in the commentary to NAWM 146).
Tonal centers are established through repetition and assertion, not through traditional harmony.
At the beginning, E-minor chords alternate with sixteenth-note arpeggiations.
When the voices enter, E is the main focus.
E is also sustained in the bass.
The A sections are primarily diatonic, using the notes of E Phrygian.
The B sections are largely octatonic.
Stravinsky juxtaposes E and G and also moves from E to G at the close.
Stravinsky and Schoenberg
Partly because of his use of tonal centers, audiences preferred Stravinsky's music to Schoenberg's.
Both composers had supporters who argued about the need for tradition.
The two composers were closer in spirit than might be first perceived.
Serial period (1951-1971)
In the 1950s, Schoenberg's twelve-tone techniques were extended to parameters other than pitch, which became known as serialism.
Stravinsky adapted serial techniques, but maintained many of his distinctive characteristics in his late works, including:
In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (1954), a song cycle
Threni (1957-58), for voices and orchestra, on texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah
Movements (1958-59), for piano and orchestra
Stravinsky's impact on other composers is similar to that of Wagner and Debussy.
Many elements that he created became commonplace.
He popularized neoclassicism.
His support for serialism helped gain him a strong following.
His writings, such as Poetics of Music, have been widely read.
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) (see HWM biography, page 830, and Figure 31.8)
Bartók synthesized elements of Hungarian, Romanian, and Bulgarian peasant music with elements of the German classical tradition.
Bartók was born in a small Hungarian city (now in Romania).
He began piano lessons at age five and began to compose at age nine.
He studied piano and composition at the Budapest Academy of Music and returned there in 1907 to teach piano.
A virtuoso pianist, he concertized throughout Europe.
He also edited the keyboard music of classic composers.
Bartók as an ethnomusicologist
Bartók collected thousands of folk songs, edited them into collections, and wrote about folk music.
He used audio recording in his field research (see HWM Figure 31.9).
He argued that peasant music better represented the nation than urban music.
In 1934 he accepted a position as ethnomusicologist at the Academy of Sciences.
Bartók enjoyed a productive compositional period until the threat from Nazi Germany forced him to flee to the United States.
He settled in New York, but suffered financially and physically until his death from leukemia in 1945.
In his early career, he modeled his music on the works of classical masters, such as Bach, Beethoven, and Liszt.
He was later inspired by the works of modernists, including Richard Strauss, Debussy, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky.
Bartók and folk music
He arranged many peasant tunes.
He created original works by blending rhythmic, melodic, or formal characteristics of peasant music with classical and modern traditions.
He created a distinctive style in his early works.
Bluebeard's Castle (1911), a one-act opera, mixes Hungarian elements with influences from Debussy.
Allegro barbaro (1911) and other piano music treated the instrument in a percussive manner.
Following World War I, his works grew more dissonant.
Two Violin Sonatas (1921 and 1922)
The Third and Fourth String Quartets
The Miraculous Mandarin, an expressionistic pantomime
His later works are his most widely known.
The Fifth and Sixth String Quartets
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936)
Concerto for Orchestra (1943)
153 piano works in six books of graded difficulty
The work is of great pedagogical value.
Bartók maintained a single pitch center, using diatonic and other scales.
He built melodies from repeated and varied motives.
Bartók retained elaborate contrapuntal procedures from the classical tradition, such as the fugue.
He drew upon complex rhythms and meters common in peasant traditions.
His harmonies, often dissonant, are frequently built from seconds and fourths.
He was fond of symmetry.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
The work has four movements, similar to a classical symphony.
Fast sonata form
Slow arch form
The fugue theme appears in each of the other movements.
Each movement contains canon and imitation, often in inversion.
The outer movements are in A, and the inner movements center on notes a minor third above (C) and below (F-sharp).
The work is neotonal.
All of the movements center on tritone relationships.
The slow movement centers on F-sharp with C as a competing pole (see HWM Example 31.11).
The themes, created by varying small motives, are often in diatonic modes.
Bulgarian dance meters alternate twos and threes; Bartók adopts a 2-3-3 pattern in the fourth movement.
The Serbo-Croatian song is heavily ornamented, partly chromatic, and speechlike (parlando-rubato), which is imitated near the beginning of the third movement (see HWM Example 31.13).
Other characteristics include drones, snapped pizzicatos, and percussive dissonant chords.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, third movement (NAWM 147)
The movement is a modified arch form: ABCB'A'.
The four phrases of the opening fugue theme separate these sections (measures 19, 34, 60, and 74).
Section A (measures 1-18)
The palindromic form of the third movement is foreshadowed in the opening xylophone solo (see HWM Example 31.12).
The section also features glissandos on the timpani, low string tremolos, and chromatic figures in the violas and violins.
The pitches center on F-sharp and C, the tonal poles of the movement.
Section B (measures 20-33)
Two solo violins and celesta share the B theme.
The eerie background consists of string trills, parallel major sevenths articulated by the piano, violin glissandos, and tremolos.
Section C (measures 35-59)
The section opens with glissandos, pentatonic scales in the harp, piano, and celesta, and a twisting theme in tremolos.
This texture is known as Bartók's "night music."
The theme builds to a climax, where a new motive appears (violin I, measures 44-45).
The new motive, sometimes played in retrograde, is related to the third phrase of the fugue theme, which enters at measure 60.
Section B' (measures 63-72)
The B theme is in canon at the tritone.
The accompanying texture is similar to the first half of section C.
Section A' (measures 75-83) presents an abbreviated version of the opening section.
Charles Ives (1874-1954) (see HWM biography, page 836, and Figure 31.10)
Ives was born in a small Connecticut city, where his father was a bandmaster and music teacher.
He became the youngest professional church organist in the state at age fourteen.
His father taught him theory and an experimental approach to sound.
He studied music with Horatio Parker at Yale.
Ives settled in New York, working as an organist.
He chose a career in the insurance business and built one of the most successful agencies in the nation.
He composed music in the evenings and weekends, but retired from composing in 1918 due to a health crisis.
Although he worked in obscurity, he was later recognized as the first American composer to create a distinctly American body of art music.
Ives was fluent in four distinct spheres of composition, and he combined elements of each in his mature music.
American vernacular music
He grew up surrounded by American vernacular music, including parlor songs, minstrel shows, and marches directed by his father.
He composed numerous marches and parlor songs.
Protestant church music
Ives sang and played organ in church for much of his early life.
He learned all of the styles prominent in American Protestantism, which were cultivated in his studies with Parker.
European classical music
He played major organ works by composers such as Bach and transcriptions of other classical works.
He studied art music with Parker.
His First Symphony is modeled after Dvo§ák's New World Symphony.
He experimented with new sounds, including polytonality (melody in one key and accompaniment in another), in his youth.
Processional for chorus and organ is an essay on possible chord structures (see HWM Example 31.14a).
Scherzo: All the Way Around and Back for chamber ensemble is a palindrome that builds on dissonant ostinatos (see HWM Example 31.14b).
The Unanswered Question (1908), his best-known experimental work, combines both tonal and atonal layers in one work.
Ives composed in classical genres after 1902, but mixed in other styles and sounds that he knew.
The Second Symphony paraphrased American popular songs, borrowed passages from classic composers, and combined them in a symphonic idiom.
American hymn tunes can be found in Ives's Third Symphony, four violin sonatas, and First Piano Sonata.
In each, thematic development occurs first and leads to the themes at the end.
In this process, Ives asserts the universal value of his country's music (see HWM Source Reading, page 840).
Many of Ives's later pieces have programs celebrating American life.
Three Places in New England presents orchestral pictures of:
The first African-American regiment in the Civil War
A band playing at a Fourth of July picnic
A walk by a river with his wife during their honeymoon
A Symphony: New England Holidays captures the spirit of national holidays.
Concord Mass., 1840-60, his second piano sonata, pays tribute to the writers in that city at that time: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts.
The Fourth Symphony, a philosophical work, poses and seeks to answer the "searching questions of What? and Why?"
Quotations of American tunes are frequent, often layered on top of each other.
Ives frequently mixed styles within a single work.
General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914; see NAWM 148 and HWM Example 31.15)
This song is based on a Vachel Lindsay poem that pictures the founder of the Salvation Army leading the poor and downtrodden into heaven.
Although it is an art song, Ives mixes aspects of American vernacular music, church music, and experimental music.
Several hymns and American tunes are paraphrased, and a cumulative form leads to an entire verse of the hymn There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.
Opening section (measures 1-18)
Ives imitates Booth's bass drum with dissonant chords on the piano.
Over the "street beat," the vocal line presents phrases derived from There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.
Second section (measures 19-39)
Ives gives each group of followers a different musical characterization.
He uses ostinatos, parallel dissonant chords, and other modernist sounds.
The hymn tune returns with the refrain.
The "mighty courthouse" (measures 40-81)
A crowd is suggested through a rising and falling whole-tone scale in the voice and ostinatos in the piano.
The piano paraphrases Oh, Dem Golden Slippers in measures 52-55 with the suggestion of banjo playing.
Ives adds a bugle call and a hint of the hymn Onward, Upward in measures 70-74.
The appearance of Jesus (measures 82-91)
There Is a Fountain is heard in the piano.
This is the first mostly diatonic passage in the song.
The slow tempo and soft dynamics suggest the dignity and serenity of Jesus.
Closing section (measures 92-113)
The march beat returns in the piano.
At the climax, the complete verse of There Is a Fountain is sung.
The action stops near the end, and the closing refrain is set twice, over soft arpeggiated chords and then in four-part Protestant harmony.
The parade fades away in the distance.
Ives's influence was felt after World War II.
He could justifiably be called the founder of the experimental-music tradition in the United States.
Composer and Audience
Modernism widened the split between popular and classical music.
Modernism targeted those willing to study and listen to a work repeatedly.
Such works became favorites of other composers, but were held in disdain by audiences.
Films have introduced both excerpts from modernist works and modernist techniques to general audiences.
Compositions by all six of the composers mentioned here have found a permanent place in the classical repertory, and interest in their music has tended to increase.