Music and modernism

How did composers reinvent norms of musical language after 1900, leading to new approaches to form, harmony, melody and rhythm?

Second Viennese School

The Second Viennese School: Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern

Article by:
Mark Berry

Mark Berry introduces the three composers labelled as key members of the ‘Second Viennese School’, each influential in his own way on musical modernism throughout the remainder of the 20th century.

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Tonality in crisis

Tonality in crisis? How harmony changed in the 20th century

Article by:
Arnold Whittall

Arnold Whittall explores changing approaches to harmony and the concept of tonality in early 20th-century music.

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Stravinsky and Neoclassicism

Stravinsky and Neoclassicism

Article by:
Stephen Walsh

Stephen Walsh discusses Neoclassicism as a concept focussing on the music of Stravinsky who extensively used this compositional ‘attitude’ in his music, becoming the most famous Neoclassicist in 20th-century music history.

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Instruments of the orchestra

The use of the instruments of the orchestra

Article by:
Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker surveys three orchestral masterpieces of the early 20th century.

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Frederick Delius, Brigg Fair

Delius's workshop

Article by:
Daniel M. Grimley

Daniel M. Grimley examines Frederick Delius's compositional routine and looks at the processes involved in assembling a large-scale musical work

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Further themes

Creative process

Find out how sketches, drafts, proofs and annotations can reveal the inner workings of a composer's mind

Music and modernism

Explore how composers after 1900 challenged and reinterpreted musical traditions

Music and place

Learn more about the impact of nationalism, folksong and a sense of place on classical music since 1900

Music and words

Discover the relationship between music and words in classical music written since 1900

Music for stage and screen

Learn more about the collaboration between composers and other artists in the creation of works for stage and screen

Music, politics and society

Discover the impact of war, political unrest and social structures on music composed since 1900

Musical style

Explore approaches to musical style in classical music composed since 1900

Performance and reception

Learn more about the performance of twentieth-century classical music and how it was received