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lesson 1-music

and Primitivism
Impression, Sunrise (1872)
Claude Monet
As with most artistic
movements, the
Impressionist movement in
music was a reaction to
the previous era of music,
namely the Romantic era,
in which the music of
many composers is heavy
and overly dramatic
by comparison.
 Originated
in Paris, France
during the late 19th century-early
20th century.
 Impressionism was a rejection of
the Romantic style in which
composers wrote music that
portrayed emotions.
 The goal of Impressionism was
to create a mood.
Tone color
- the quality of sound that
distinguishes one instrument
or voice from another
The sounds work together to
create a space where sound
becomes the encompassing
theme, mood and character of
the immediate environment.
is used as a metaphor for the
expressive relationship
between the composer and
The term Expressionism was originally
borrowed from visual art and literature.
Artists created vivid pictures, distorting
colours and shapes to make unrealistic
images that suggested strong emotions.
Expressionist composers poured intense
emotional expression into their music
exploring their subconscious mind.
Expressionist music often features:
A high level of dissonance
Extreme contrasts of dynamics
Constantly changing textures
‘Distorted’ melodies and harmonies
Angular melodies with wide leaps
Primitivism is a word that describes
the condition or quality that
belongs to something crude and
unrefined. In music, primitivism was
a reaction to the rich complexity
of Romanticism and later on,
 Exploration of cultural concerns
from outside of the European tradition
 Crudeness and rawness of
Abstraction of the figure in visual
 Emphasis on rhythm and percussive
elements in music.
Claude Debussy
the primary exponent of the
impressionist movement and the
focal point for other impressionist
 he gained a reputation as an
erratic pianist and a rebel in theory
and harmony
he won the top prize at the Prix
de Rome competition with his
composition L’ Enfant Prodigue
(Prodigal Son)
 he got exposed to the music of
Richard Wagner
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, chamber music,
piano music, operas, ballets, songs,
and other vocal music
The creative style of Debussy was
characterized by his unique approach to the
various musical elements. Debussy’s
compositions deviated from the Romantic
Period and is clearly seen by the way he
avoided metric pulses and preferred free
form and developed his themes. Debussy’s
western influences came from composers
Franz Liszt and Giuseppe Verdi.
From the East, he was fascinated by the
Javanese gamelan that he had heard at the
1889 Paris Exposition.
From the visual arts, Debussy was
influenced by Monet, Pissarro, Manet,
Degas, and Renoir; and from the literary
arts, by Mallarme, Verlaine, and Rimbaud.
His role as the “Father of the Modern
School of Composition” made its mark in
the styles of the later 20th century
composers like Igor Stravinsky, Edgar
Varese, and Olivier Messiaen.
Debussy spent the remaining years of his
life as a critic, composer, and performer.
He died in Paris on March 25, 1918 of
cancer at the height of the First World
Maurice Ravel
born in Ciboure, France to a
Basque mother and a Swiss
He entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 14 where
he studied with the eminent
French composer Gabriel Faure.
his compositional style is
mainly characterized by its
uniquely innovative but not
atonal style of harmonic
Ravel was a perfectionist and
every bit a musical craftsman.
A strong advocate of Russian
music, he also admired the music
of Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, and
He died in Paris in 1937.
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.
These were followed by a number of
his other significant works, including
Valses Nobles et Sentimentales (1911)
Le Tombeau de Couperin
(c.1917), a commemoration of the
advocacies of the early 18th century
French composer Francois Couperin,
Rhapsodie Espagnole
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 Franz
Walter Schoenberg
Schoenbergwas born in a
working-class suburb of Vienna,
Austria on September 13,
He taught himself music
theory, but took lessons in
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
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
Although full of melodic and lyrical
interest, his music is also extremely
complex, creating heavy demands on
the listener.
His works were met with
extreme reactions, either strong
hostility from the general public or
enthusiastic acclaim from his
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, and melodic beauty of Brahms
with the chromaticism and construction of
His musical compositions total
more 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 Los Angeles, California, USA
where he had settled since 1934.
Igor Stravinsky
stands alongside fellowcomposer 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.
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.
The Rite of Spring (1913)
was another outstanding work
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 18 century with his
contemporary style of writing.
Despite its “shocking”
modernity, his music is also very
structured, precise, controlled,
full of artifice, and theatrically.
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 and Mozart 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.
Bela Bartok
born in Nagyszentmiklos,
Hungary (now Romania) on March
25, 1881,to musical parents.
He started piano lessons with
his mother and later entered
Budapest Royal Academy of Music
in 1899.
He was inspired by the
performance of Richard Strauss’s
Also Sprach Zarathustra to write
his first nationalistic poem,
Kossuth in 1903.
He was a concert pianist as he
travelled exploring the music of
Hungarian peasants.
In 1906, with his fellow
composer Kodaly, Bartok
published his first collection
of 20 Hungarian folk songs.
For the next decade, although
his music was being badly received
in his country, he continued to
explore Magyar folk songs. Later,
he resumed his career as a concert
pianist, while composing several
works for his own use.
As a neo-classicist,
primitivist, and nationalist
composer, Bartok used Hungarian
folk themes and rhythms. He
also utilized changing meters and
strong syncopations.
His compositions were
successful because of their rich
melodies and lively rhythms.
He admire the musical styles
of Liszt, Strauss, Debussy, and
Bartok is most famous for his Six
String quartets (1908-1938).
It represents the greatest
achievement of his creative life,
spanning a full 30 years for their
completion. The six works combine
difficult and dissonant music with
mysterious sounds.
The Concerto for Orchestra
(1943), a five-movement work
composed late in Bartok’s life,
features the exceptional talents
of its various soloists in an
intricately constructed piece.
The short and popular Allegro
Barbaro (1911) for solo piano is
punctuated with swirling
rhythms and percussive chords,
while Mikrokosmos (1926–
1939), a set of six books
containing progressive technical
piano pieces, introduced and
familiarized the piano
student with contemporary
harmony and rhythm.
His musical compositions
total more or less 695 which
include concerti, orchestral
music, piano music, instrumental
music, dramatic music, choral
music, and songs.
In 1940, the political
developments in Hungary led
Bartok to migrate to the
United States, where he died
on September 26, 1945 in
New York City, USA.