Classical music is one of the high watermarks of our culture beautiful, uplifting, able to express the most intimate and most enormous of human emotions. For centuries it gave us masterpieces of art whose harmonies – even at their most complex - were beautiful, tonal, pleasing to the ear. Then along came the 20th century, and everything changed. This was a period that saw huge advances in science, technology and industry. An era that brought us the aeroplane, motor cars, cinema and the gramophone record - an invention that promised to bring the joys of music to a mass audience. WHAT‟S THAT NOISE? This was also the most violent era in history, with two world wars climaxing with the horrors of the atomic bomb. Classical music, too, went through a brutal, violent upheaval. As early as 1913 the composer Debussy was calling for music to mirror the vast changes in the world around it. “Is it not our duty,” he asked “to find a symphonic means to express our time, one that evokes the progress, the daring and the victories of modern days? The century of the aeroplane deserves its music.” to many people, recent classical music is an uncomfortable, impenetrable racket. Yet it aims to explain the cultural and social context that replaced tunes with tones, rhythm with anarchy, beauty with ugliness.

over less than two decades - classical music was completely turned on its head, and ask why a new generation of composers deliberately chose to discard all its traditional structures of form, melody and rhythm.
This is the story of a cultural war - a battle between consonance and dissonance – where the biggest casualties were the very things most people look for in music: a steady rhythm and a good tune. We will show how innovation was also – to the wider audience - alienation. IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END The noise is replaced by a (relatively) elegant woodwind melody. If the revolution in modern music could be said to have a definitive

fluctuating tempos and irregular rhythms all sowed the seeds of innovation – or. Strauss backed down. and if it is for all it is not art.his operas Salome and Elektra had verged on what would come to be known as „atonality‟. But the cultured bourgeois world of Viennese music would soon be hit with a force that cared nothing for popularity. with the now familiar flute opening of Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy.his influence present even in today‟s compositions. and it seemed melody was safe again. VIENNA In Vienna. Richard Strauss had begun to experiment with breaking free from convention . Between them. He was immensely proud to have upended everything that had gone before. As early as 1905. as some might see it. either a giant of modern music or the man who ruined everything. singular vision was the wrecking ball that tore through centuries of great composition. we examine how the radical shifts in music mirrored the radical upheaval of the beginning of the new century. The timbre of the low evocative flute. His unrelenting.” Debussy has become a key figure in modern music . insularity versus popularity. Mahler and Strauss toyed with the struggle of modernism versus populism. his attitudes unashamedly elitist. Across the arts. most modern composers generally agree that these are among the best notes ever written. The great dilemma of the new modern cultural world was this – to stay stuck in the traditions of the past and give the people „what they want‟. he unleashed the traditional pattern of major-minor keys that had been the foundation of most western music. “If it is art it is not for all. rewrite the rule book. OH. and ignore the expectations of the audience altogether? This dilemma can clearly be seen in the contrast between two of music‟s towering figures. . MAHLER 6TH ARNOLD THE ICONOCLAST Arnold Schoenberg is. He once proclaimed. or to upend conventional thinking. then it actually came at the end of the 19th century. writers and painters were questioning the very form of their craft. With this work. His story is compelling.beginning. a musical setting of poems by Stefan George. Meanwhile his friend (and rival) Gustav Mahler was composing towering symphonies still largely rooted in the standard idiom. depending on one‟s stance.” Starting in 1908 with The Book Of The Hanging Gardens. with no less a figure than Ravel heralding this piece as “one of the few miracles in the history of music. Schoenberg pioneered atonality – music that was unsettling in its lack of recognisable melodic forms. A landmark work when first performed in Paris in 1894. the rot to come.

Schoenberg‟s wife had an affair with a mutual friend – a painter who burned all his canvases then hanged himself naked. shifting pulses of Stravinsky‟s ballet score The Rite Of Spring. The atonal composers wrote to satisfy themselves first. After undergoing revisions almost up until the very day of its first performance. In a contemporary sequence. clattering racket from home-made . Stravinsky and others rewrote the form of music.) Schoenberg went so far as to write a „theory of harmony‟ as a manifesto for the death of the conventional „tune‟. and the public second (at best. we see a group of performers producing an unholy. he said of classical compositional form: “We broke its neck. 6) and Berg‟s Three Pieces For Orchestra was anything but. instinctual emotions. arguably the single most influential work of 20th century music. "Don't you folks get it? This piece is all about SEX!" THE ART OF NOISE As Schoenberg. But we also see that there was personal as well as musical torment.” He didn‟t hold back. hermaphroditic” and they had become “spies. involving one of the most notorious classical music riots in history. it was the turn of rhythm to be dismantled – with the wild. Is it pioneering. philistine. The premiere has passed into legend. is reported to have screamed out during the rehearsal. and the music captured this with a rawness that grated then. it was premiered on May 29. The standard chords and tones of music were dismissed as “sentimental. across in Italy the very building blocks of music themselves were under fire – the classic instrumentation of the chamber ensembles and orchestras. At the Schoenberg Institute we uncover his bombastic writings. and to many still does. Atonal music – as exemplified in Webern‟s The Six Pieces (Op. and grapple with his music. 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.” The painter Matisse had just described his art as “a comfy armchair”. or simply vulgar? Leonard Bernstein.Schoenberg: Three Pieces For Piano Along with his equally inscrutable pupils Anton Webern and Alban Berg. agitators. The music‟s ever-shifting stresses on individual beats confused audiences more accustomed to the flow of classical ballet. effeminate. see his alarming paintings. YES … BUT CAN YOU DANCE TO IT? Once conventional melody had been dismissed. The Rite of Spring is about basic. cosmopolitan. when rehearsing the piece with an orchestra of young musicians in Germany. primitive. turncoats. in fact he kept a scrapbook of all the damning words that had been printed about him. And though Schoenberg professed not to care about the huge criticism of his atonal onslaught.

Using visual images of New York against this propulsive. Russolo‟s „noise intoners‟ were in keeping with the spirit of Futurism. Their musical manifesto appeared at the same time as Rite of Spring in1913. rhythm and even conventional instrumentation into a unique new sound that deliberately set out to be utterly unlike anything that had preceded it. “I became a sort of diabolic Parsifal. “ searching not for the Holy Grail but the bomb that would make the musical world explode and thereby let in all sounds – sounds which up to now.machine instruments. and the country itself came to inspire some of the most challenging music of the 1920s.Dvorak’s now ubiquitous ‘New World Symphony’ referenced Negro spirituals. Scored for twenty two woodwinds. His first major work to be performed in the US was the 1926 percussive work Ameriques. and set out to compose „noise music‟ that responded to the new sounds of industry and city life. He came to New York from the Parisian avant-garde. But this noise art is a significant part of the bigger picture – for it unwittingly opened the door for any sound. written by the Italian poet Marinetti.” Varese was the pioneer of „anything goes‟. and even today. the early pioneers of jazz were emerging. His use of unconventional instrumentation and industrial sounds led to him being dubbed "the Father of Electronic Music". I HEAR A NEW WORLD We follow the revolution in music from Europe to America. made by whatever means. sixty six strings and an . a member of the Italian artistic movement known as Futurism. IVES: CONCORD SONATA But it was a European who harnessed all the drive and excitement of the rapidly evolving American landscape – Edgar Varese. where change was just as much in the air.” he said. These are intonarumori – the sonic creations of Luigi Russolo. By the early 20s. Surviving recordings of pieces from the time sound as crazy as much of the Futurists‟ nonsense. have been called noises. confusing music we demonstrate how it echoed the sounds and rhythms of New York along the Hudson river and the Brooklyn Bridge. The Futurists published a manifesto in Le Figaro. and “a stratospheric Colossus of Sound". wails of sirens and moaning foghorns. He firmly believed in the Futurists‟ „art of noise‟. which was as much pranksterism and provocation as it was art. It was called The Art Of Noise. He fused the collapsing of tone. to become incorporated into musical composition. In 1909. Popular and classical music were combining . Its style owes a debt to Stravinsky. They worshipped the machine age. twenty nine brass. with noise from traffic. the landscape of music in the New World was moving at a steady pace. but with all the nice folk tradition taken out.

Berg died in Vienna. Schoenberg pushed the limits of his rigorous dismantling of the musical order. Surely. near Vienna. as we shall see next time round. music was getting ever more into the realms of mathematics than pleasure? We finish with a ray of light. This was the time of Freud and the rise of psychoanalysis (which the frequently depressive Berg subscribed to). There was one last major work to come from the tumult – an opera that stands as the ultimate expression of the many vast changes music underwent in less that two decades. Berg brought back elements of conventional tonality to provide a sympathetic counterpart to the brutal shock of Wozzeck‟s narrative. But to anyone unversed in the rigours of music theory. psychotic anti-hero as its central character .to mirror the tortured personalities of his characters. it remains even more unfathomable than football‟s offside rule. uncomfortable sounds of the new musical order. Atonality was not enough . and the blacklisting of all Modernist music – because dictators. Wozzeck was the first operatic work to come out of dissonance and the avant-garde. Seeing that tunelessness for its own sake would probably end up being a cul de sac. on Christmas Eve 1935. quite unexpectedly American audiences loved it – and Varese became quite a sensation. he will tell us that while the sound world of this piece is essentially brittle and violent. from blood poisoning. but instead of being dry and academic he used free-form atonality for a genuine purpose. The 12tone was concerned with the contrapuntal effect of combining the 12 individual notes of the scale on a keyboard.enormous percussion section of ten players. TWELVE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER In 1923. loved nothing so . composed by Schoenberg‟s protégé his house at Modling. No opera before Wozzeck had a bullied. He had mellowed – he believed that classical music couldn‟t simply reject all that had gone before. A personal favourite of the conductor Antonio Pappano. he unveiled his system of „12-tone‟ composition. He had been reduced to near-poverty due to Nazi persecution. Perhaps melody was due to make a comeback? It was – but only as a consequence of the most catastrophic events of the entire 20th mirrored his mental instability by adopting the jarring. its most recurring motif is the use of a siren from the fire department. Berg adopted many of Schoenberg‟s principles. and sounds yet more confusing still. and premiered in 1925.

PORGY + BESS??? OR NEXT EP??? .much as a good tune.