This essay describes the music of 20th century and main composers. Twentieth-century composers increasingly faced a decision about the role that consonance and traditional tonality (i.e., music in a key) would play in their musical styles and their conclusions varied widely. …
This "Classical music of 20th and 21st" outlines the development of classical music in this period of time and composers who influenced it the most. Arnold Schoenberg is a 20th century avant-garde composer that would go on to influence John Cage. His contributions to contemporary composition and music are well regarded. In terms of the questions of tonality and consonance, Schoenberg has a number of periods that must be considered. In his early compositional periods, he was more aligned with tonality, albeit in an experimental context. As he moved on to his later periods after 1908, he gradually adopted a more avant-garde style that embraced consonance (Kamien 2008). One such example of compositions in this later period is ‘Pierrot Lunaire.’
Similar to Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives began his compositional journey producing works with traditional tonal qualities. His work in such early compositions as ‘Variations on America’ demonstrates this tonal concern. In Ives’ middle and later periods he gradually adopted a more experimental style based on atonality and experimentation. His work in ‘Symphony 2’ demonstrated a shift in this direction that would later be more fully realized in his mature work. As his work further developed in ‘The Unanswered Question’ and ‘Three Places in New England’ he adopts a nearly entirely atonal sound. These works build towards what traditional classical music would realize in a melodic climax, but rather than delivering this, Schoenberg returns to atonal dissonance. Igor Stravinsky Russian composer Igor Stravinsky explored tonality in a variety of his compositions. Among the composers examined, he is perhaps the most renowned for the fantastical nature of the reaction to his famed composition ‘The Rite of Spring’. The composition, written for a 1913 ballet was such an avant-garde experience that the crowd rioted. The composition itself, while exploring traditional tonality in segments, is largely an atonal work. Some of Stravinsky’s other famed compositions demonstrate a similar concern with these challenging elements of sound. For instance, his work on ‘Histoire du soldat’ demonstrated similar concerns with consonance. Stravinsky’s late period work would explore 18th century classical styles, yet reinterpret them with his characteristic experimental elements, meshing both tonality and consonance. Sergei Prokofiev Similar to Stravinsky, Prokofiev was a Russian composer who developed a number of works for the ballet. To a great degree his works reflected a similar concern ...
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