An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music

By Peter S. Hansen | Go to book overview
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The situation in Germany is serious but not hopeless; the situation in Austria is hopeless but not serious. VIENNESE SAYING

In these rich years before World War I a musical tradition very different from that in France flourished in the German-speaking countries on the other side of the Rhine. Whereas France could boast of but one cultural center-- Paris--scores of German, Austrian, Polish, and Bohemian cities enjoyed their own opera houses, orchestras, and conservatories. The Brahms-Wagner controversy, debated in Germany and Austria with the vehemence reserved for political discussions in France, shows how important artistic matters were to these people. The Germans were immensely proud of the long line of composers they could claim, and when Paris capitulated to the music dramas of Wagner in the 1880's they were as proud as they had been of Bismarck's victory over the French in 1870.

The turn of the century witnessed the complete victory of Wagnerian ideals which were carried forward in the works of Richard Strauss ( 1864- 1949) and in those of a host of lesser talents. Strauss' tone poems, from Don Juan ( 1888) to Ein Heldenleben ( 1898), are extremely vital works that are still regularly performed. Around 1900 he turned to opera, and Salome ( 1905) and Elektra ( 1909) fascinated and repelled the musical world with their violence. These


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An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music


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