The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music

By Jim Samson | Go to book overview
Save to active project

21
Styles and languages around the turn of the
century
ANTHONY POPLE

The title of this chapter implies not only a concern with musical style and musical language, but also that a distinction may be drawn between the two. In the paragraphs that follow I shall take this distinction to be roughly equivalent to the point at which the style of a musical passage, work or repertory can be said to be more than simply a matter of how a composer's musical mannerisms, habits or inclinations are identifiable as an emergent property of the music he or she produces. At this point, 'style' as an attribute of a passage, piece or repertory becomes something that can be manipulated along with the musical elements that express that style. Such manipulation allows musical language to be deployed as a means to a variety of ends: to express emotion, for example, or to articulate a drama, or to engage in cultural politics.

All of this presupposes that differences of style are actually recognisable as such across the field of contemporaneous musical composition, and indeed by the middle of the nineteenth century this had clearly been the case for some time. What is more, one of the century's most notable attempts to deploy musical language for culture-political ends dates from this time, with the declaration of the New German School. But the most remarkable flowering of this kind of project was to come a little later, in and around the two decades that straddle the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A music-lover of catholic tastes who had the time and resources to travel around Europe and North America taking in premières during this period could have heard the first performances of works as diverse as Don Juan (1889), Pagliacci (1892), the Variations on America (1892), En Saga (1893), the Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune (1894), the 'Resurrection' Symphony (1895), Verklärte Nacht (1902), Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), Jenufa (1904), Salome (1905), the Poem of Ecstasy (1908) and The Firebird (1910) to name a mere dozen.1 It is this remarkable florescence of styles and languages, of which the above list illustrates merely the tip of an iceberg, that will be the main focus of this chapter.

The impact of the New German School, and in particular of Wagner's music

____________________
1
The dates given in parentheses are those of first performance.

-601-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 772

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?