The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music

By Jim Samson | Go to book overview

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-

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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Notes on Contributors ix
  • Editor's Preface xiii
  • Part One - 1800–1850 1
  • 1 - The Musical Work and Nineteenth-Century History 3
  • Bibliography *
  • 2 - Music and the Rise of Aesthetics 29
  • Bibliography *
  • 3 - The Profession of Music 55
  • Bibliography 85
  • 4 - The Opera Industry 87
  • Bibliography *
  • 5 - The Construction of Beethoven 118
  • Bibliography *
  • 6 - Music and the Poetic 151
  • Bibliography *
  • 7 - The Invention of Tradition 178
  • Bibliography *
  • 8 - Choral Music 213
  • Bibliography *
  • 9 - The Consumption of Music 237
  • Bibliography 258
  • 10 - The Great Composer 259
  • Bibliography 283
  • Part Two - 1850–1900 285
  • 11 - Progress, Modernity and the Concept of an Avant-Garde 287
  • Bibliography *
  • 12 - Music as Ideal: the Aesthetics of Autonomy 318
  • Bibliography *
  • 13 - The Structures of Musical Life 343
  • Bibliography *
  • 14 - Opera and Music Drama 371
  • Bibliography *
  • 15 - Beethoven Reception: the Symphonic Tradition 424
  • Bibliography *
  • 16 - Words and Music in Germany and France 460
  • Bibliography *
  • 17 - Chamber Music and Piano 500
  • Bibliography *
  • 18 - Choral Culture and the Regeneration of the Organ 522
  • Bibliography *
  • 19 - Music and Social Class 544
  • Bibliography *
  • 20 - Nations and Nationalism 568
  • Bibliography *
  • 21 - Styles and Languages Around the Turn of the Century 601
  • Bibliography 620
  • Chronology 621
  • Institutions 659
  • Personalia 689
  • Index 747
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