A History of Western Music

By Donald Jay Grout; Claude V. Palisca | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19

EUROPEAN MUSIC FROM THE I870s
TO WORLD WAR I

Europe was relatively peaceful and stable in the late 1800s, but increasing social unrest and international tension marked the first two decades of the twentieth century, culminating in World War I (1914-18). The same period saw radical experiments in the musical realm, which also aroused uneasiness and tension in concert audiences. Composers challenged the conventions of tonality that had ruled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, effectively bringing the Classic-Romantic period to a close.


THE GERMAN TRADITION

Wagner held an enormous fascination for European musicians in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Many composers came under his spell, even as most of them consciously struggled to find their own solutions while making use of his advances in harmony and orchestration.


Wolf

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) continued the German tradition of the solo song with piano accompaniment. He also wrote piano pieces, choruses, symphonic works, one completed opera (Der Corregidor, 1896), a string quartet, and the Italian Serenade for small orchestra (1892; originally composed as a string‐ quartet movement in 1887).

Most of Wolf's 250 lieder were produced in short periods of intense creative activity between 1887 and 1897. They were published in five principal collections, each devoted to a single poet, or group of poets: 53 on poems of

Songs

-631-

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