19th and 20th Century Music Composers Essay

Debussy had a sense of musical style that allowed the listener to enjoy the moment and to not really wonder about what was coming next. Although Debussy was influenced by Wagner and Liszt, (which can be seen in his usage of chromatic and whole-tone chords), his music is free from the need to constantly resolve. Debussy also tends to keep a tonal focus. However, in his piece L’isle joyeuse he chose to defy the predictable tonal relationships between chords and gave each chord a degree of independence.

Once again, Debussy’s way of doing this completely changed the tone and attitude of this piece and allowed us to enjoy each moment of the piece.

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Debussy was also known for his modern and symbolist tendencies. He liked to paint a picture for the listener which can be seen in his piece Nunges from Nocturnes where Debussy highlighted the English horn. Even though Debussy wanted to paint a picture for the listener, unlike other composers, he wanted the listener to figure out what that picture was on their own.

Igor Stravinsky is remembered in part for his originality and his individualism. He developed multiple style traits which most likely emerged from his Russian traditions and these are what he became known for.

Some of these trademarks were his rapid changes of meter, frequent ostinatos, dissonance, and many more. One of Stravinsky’s most famous ballets, Petrushka, utilizes many of these techniques within the opening scene; such as static harmony and repetitive patterns. This may be one of the reasons why this ballet was so well liked. Another piece written by Stravinsky that utilized many of his new techniques was The Rite of Spring. This ballet was marked by primitivism which was used to represent the old pagan Russia. The opening scene focused on a girl who was forced to dance herself to death as a sacrifice.

Even though the listeners may not have recognized these new techniques upon hearing the piece for the first time, they still recognized it as being different. The audience was so infuriated by this piece that there was a riot at its first performance. However, this piece eventually became one of the most regularly performed works of its time period. In conclusion, Stravinsky is the reason neoclassicism is popular and his style, along with the many trademarks that he was known for, was imitated by many composers in the future. Bela Bartok took originality to a whole new dimension.

He created his own voice by using rudiments of music from many different nationalities that he felt had been overlooked. Bartok wanted to create this type of “peasant” music because he felt that it represented his country of Hungary better than the urban pop music that was said to. Bartok first significantly showed off his own style around the year 1908 with compositions such as the First String Quartet and Bluebeard’s Castle. “His Allegro Barbaro (1911) and other piano works introduced a new approach to the piano, treating it more as a percussive instrument than as a spinner of cantabile melodies and resonant accompaniments. Bartok tried to reach the limits of dissonance and tonal ambiguity with his Violin Sonata of 1920 and his Violin Sonata of 1921. His music also attempted to synthesize peasant with classical music by emphasizing what they have in common and also by what is so different about them. By mixing together these concepts, new elements, such as Bartok’s use of harmony, dissonance, and love of symmetry, emerged. Each of these composers (Debussy, Stravinsky, and Bartok) can be grouped together for being different and innovative.

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