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15 impressionism, expressionism, and 12 tone (oer)


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This slideshow covers some of the major musical trends of the early 20th century.

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15 impressionism, expressionism, and 12 tone (oer)

  1. 1. Impressionism, Expressionism, and Twelve-tone
  2. 2. Impressionism in Art • Pioneered by Claude Monet • Name from his Impression: Sun Rising • Distinctly Parisian in style • Attempted to capture a first impression • Focuses on light and color • Paintings have hazy, indistinct quality
  3. 3. Impressionism in Music • A reaction against Romantic excesses • Use of chromatic and whole tone scales • Subtle orchestration, winds emphasized • Rhythm was free of regular accent • Use of extended harmonic structures
  4. 4. Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) • One of the most prominent Impressionist composers, though he disliked that term • Entered the Paris Conservatory at age 10 • Associated with Nadezhda von Meck • Awarded the Prix de Rome at age 22 • His music was not well-received by critics in his day
  5. 5. Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) • Musical characteristics: – Elaborate melodic patterns that make atonal passages less jarring – Use of parallel chords (chords as melody) – Use of unusual scales: whole-tone and pentatonic
  6. 6. Listening Example • Title: Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun • Composer: Claude Debussy • Genre: Symphonic Poem
  7. 7. Notes on Prelude to… a Faun • Inspired by Mallarme’s symbolist poem • Seen as the beginning of modern music • Woodwinds present the main themes • Meandering quality, unconcerned with progress toward a musical finish line • The beat and meter are obscured
  8. 8. Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937) • Like Debussy, Ravel was a leading impressionist but didn’t like that term • Clashed with conservative professors and critics at the Paris Conservatory • Smaller compositional output than others • Recognized the potential of music recording early on and oversaw recordings of his work
  9. 9. Listening Example • Title: Daphnis et Chloé • Composer: Maurice Ravel • Genre: Ballet
  10. 10. Notes on Daphnis et Chloé, Part III “Lever du jour” • “Lever” is the first movement of Part III • Ravel considered the music for the entire ballet to be symphonic in character • It is Ravel’s longest work – approx. 1 hour • Note the shimmering quality of the strings • Use of choral voices without text
  11. 11. Expressionism • Early 20th century modernist movement originating in German poetry and painting • In visual art, expressionism strove to convey individual emotional experience • In music, expressionism focuses on the unconscious or subconscious mind • Highly dissonant music conveys angst • Schoenberg is first expressionist composer
  12. 12. Arnold Schoenberg • Austrian composer who emigrated to the US in 1934 due to the rise of the Nazi party • Came to be associated with atonal compositional techniques • Developed the twelve-tone technique • Highly influential composer, theorist, and teacher
  13. 13. Evolution of Schoenberg’s Compositional Styles • Post-Romanticism • Atonal-Expressionism • Twelve-tone
  14. 14. Sprechstimme • “Speak-singing” • Vocal line spoken more than sung – No exact pitches – No strict rhythm • Best example: Pierrot Lunaire
  15. 15. Listening Example • Title: Pierrot Lunaire, Madonna • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg • Genre: Art Song
  16. 16. Notes on Pierrot Lunaire, Madonna • Great example of atonal expressionism • No tonal center but not twelve-tone • Use of sprechstimme • Through composed – no repetition • A dark psychological exploration
  17. 17. Twelve-tone Composition • Uses all 12 notes of chromatic scale equally • Composing begins with “tone row” – Selecting the order of the 12 pitches – Row can be inverted, reversed, transposed • The original row (or its permutation) must always appear in order • All pitches are treated equally so no tonal center is perceived
  18. 18. Listening Example • Title: Trio from Suite for Piano • Composer: Arnold Schoenberg • Genre: Twelve-tone music
  19. 19. Notes on Trio from Suite for Piano • Performed by solo piano • Sparse texture • Systematically atonal music • Contrapuntal texture