Twentieth Century Music: How it Developed, How to Listen to It

By Marion Bauer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
IMPRESSIONISM AND THE TWENTIETH CENTURY RENAISSANCE: ENGLAND, POLAND, HUNGARY, SPAIN, ITALY, AMERICA, ETC.

THE Impressionistic School, as it developed, was a direct cause of the renaissance which occupied the attention of practically the entire musical world. Debussy not only created a new method of composition but he aroused the composers in other countries to artistic stock-taking. If some have been accused of imitating him, it was the sincerest form of flattery, and without that intense emotional and intellectual interest in the new language the many innovations which followed could hardly have taken place. He was not only an Impressionist, but in the same way that Beethoven the Classicist embodied the germs of Romanticism, and Schumann, those of Impressionism, Debussy gave promise of a new futurism or realism which has since manifested itself as neoclassicism with polytonality, atonality, linear counterpoint, and an investigation of quarter-tones as by-products.

When the twentieth century opened, Impressionism was the acute problem of the day, rapidly crystallizing in form, with recognizable earmarks. So in speaking of the Impressionists of other nationalities we refer to a definite type or variation of type.

In England, Cyril Scott ( 1879) was one of the first Impressionists, a mystic impressionist he might be called, thus sharing a title with Scriabin. While not unaffected by Debussy, other influences united in forming his style which a few years ago sounded so strange and forced that he was subjected to attacks from critics, public, and colleagues. One friend who always understood and appreciated, not only his music but the point-of-view which led to that angle of self-expression, was Percy Grainger, himself an important innovator in the use of harmony and in studying and using

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