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The start of the 20th century saw the rise of distinct musical styles that reflected a move away from the conventions of
earlier classical music. These new styles were: impressionism, expressionism, neo-classicism, avant garde music, and modern
 One of the earlier but concrete forms declaring the entry of 20th century music was known as impressionism. This was
based on an art movement started by 19th Paris based visual artists, specifically Claude Monet through his painting Impression
 Sublime moods and melodic suggestions replaced highly expressive and program music, or music that contained visual
 Impressionism was an attempt not to depict reality, but merely to suggest it. It was meant to create an emotional mood
rather than a specific picture.
The impressionistic movement in music had its foremost proponents in the French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
Both had developed a particular style of composing adopted by many 20th century composers. Among the most famous
luminariesin other countries were Ottorino Respighi (Italy), Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albeniz(Spain), and Ralph Vaughan Williams
CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862–1918) – Father of the Modern School of Composition
 One of the most important and influential of the 20th century composers was Claude Debussy.
 He was the primary exponent of the impressionist movement and the focal point for other impressionist composers. He
changed the course of musical development by dissolving traditional rules and conventions into a new language of
possibilities in harmony, rhythm, form, texture, and color.
 Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye in France on August22, 1862. His early musical talents were channeled into piano
lessons. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1873. In 1884, he won the top prize at the Prix de Rome competition with his
composition L’ Enfant Prodigue (The Prodigal Son).
Debussy’s mature creative period was represented by the following works:
 Ariettes Oubliees
 Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
 String Quartet
 Pelleas et Melisande (1895)—his famous operatic work that drew mixed extreme reactions for its innovative
harmonies and textural treatments.
 La Mer (1905)—a highly imaginative and atmospheric symphonic work for orchestra about the sea
 Images, Suite Bergamasque, and Estampes —his most popular piano compositions; a set of lightly textured pieces
containing his signature work Claire de Lune (Moonlight)
 His musical compositions total more or less 227 which include orchestral music, chambermusic, piano music, operas, ballets,
songs, and other vocal music.
MAURICE RAVEL (1875–1937)
 Joseph Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, France to a Basque mother and a Swiss father.
He entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 14 where he studied with the eminent French composer Gabriel Faure.
 The compositional style of Ravel is mainly characterized by its uniquely innovative but not a tonal style of harmonic
treatment. It is defined with intricate and sometimes modal melodies and extended chordal components
 Many of his works deal with water in its flowing or stormy moods as well as with human characterizations.

Ravel’s works include the following:

 Pavane for a Dead Princess (1899)-- a slow but lyrical requiem
 Jeux d’Eau or Water Fountains (1901)
 String Quartet (1903)
 Sonatine for Piano (c.1904)
 Miroirs (Mirrors), 1905) -- a work for piano known for its harmonic evolution and imagination,
 Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) -- a set of demonic-inspired pieces based on the poems of Aloysius Bertrand which is arguably
the most difficult piece in the piano repertoire.
 Valses Nobles et Sentimentales (1911)
 Le Tombeau de Couperin (c.1917), a commemoration of the musical advocacies of the early 18th century French
composer Francois Couperin,
 Rhapsodie Espagnole
 Bolero
 Daphnis et Chloe (1912), a ballet commissioned by master choreographer Sergei Diaghilev that contained rhythmic
diversity, evocation of nature, and choral ensemble
 La Valse (1920), a waltz with a frightening undertone that had been composed for ballet and arranged as well as for solo
and duo piano.
 The two piano concerti composed in 1929 as well as the violin virtuosic piece
 Tzigane (1922) total the relatively meager compositional output of Ravel, approximating 60 pieces for piano, chamber
music, song cycles, ballet, and opera.
 Arnold Schoenberg was born in a working-class suburb of Vienna, Austria on September 13, 1874. He taught
himself music theory, but took lessons in counterpoint. German composer Richard Wagner influenced his work as
evidenced by his symphonic poem Pelleas et Melisande, Op 5 (1903), a counterpoint of Debussy’s opera of the
same title.
 Schoenberg’s style was constantly undergoing development. From the early influences of Wagner, his tonal
preference gradually turned to the dissonant and atonal, as he explored the use of chromatic harmonies.
 His works were met with extremereactions, either strong hostility from the general public or enthusiastic acclaim
from his supporters.
Schoenberg is credited with the establishment of the twelve-tone system. His works include the following:
 Verklarte Nacht, Three Pieces for Piano, op. 11
 Pierrot Lunaire,
 Gurreleider
 Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night, 1899), one of his earliest successful
pieces, blends the lyricism, instrumentation, andmelodic beauty of Brahms with the chromaticism and construction
of Wagner.
 His musical compositions totalmore or less 213 which include concerti, orchestral music, piano music, operas,
choral music, songs, and other instrumental music. Schoenberg died on July 13, 1951 in LosAngeles, California,
USAwhere he had settled since 1934.


 Igor Stravinsky stands alongside fellow-composer Schoenberg, painter Pablo Picasso, and literary figure James
Joyce as one of the great trendsetters of the 20th century.

 He was born in Oranienbaum (now Lomonosov), Russia on June 17, 1882. Stravinsky’s early music reflected the
influence of his teacher, the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. But in his first successful masterpiece,
The Firebird Suite (1910), composed for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet, his skillful handling of material and rhythmic
inventiveness went beyond anything composed by his Russian predecessors. He added a new ingredient to his
nationalistic musical style.

 The Rite of Spring (1913) was another outstanding work. A new level of dissonance was reached and the sense of
tonality was practically abandoned. Asymmetrical rhythms successfully portrayed the character of a solemn
pagan rite. When he left the country for the United States in 1939, Stravinsky slowly turned his back on Russian
nationalism and cultivated his neo-classical style.

 Stravinsky adapted the forms of the 18th centurywith his contemporary style of writing. Despite its “shocking”
modernity, his music is also very structured, precise, controlled, full of artifice, and theatricality. Other
outstanding works include the ballet Petrouchka (1911), featuring shifting rhythms and polytonality, a signature
device of the composer.

 The Rake’s Progress (1951), a full-length opera, alludes heavily to the Baroque and Classical styles of Bach
andMozart through the use of the harpsichord, small orchestra, solo and ensemble numbers with recitatives
stringing together the different songs. Stravinsky’s musical output approximates 127 works, including concerti,
orchestral music, instrumental music, operas, ballets, solo vocal, and choral music. He died in New York City on
April 6, 1971.