Music M656 Reserves
Music Since 1900:
Modernism, Tradition, and the Avant-Garde
Books on Reserve and in Reference
Table of Contents
Austin, William W. Music in the 20th Century: From Debussy through
Stravinsky. New York: W. W. Norton, 1966. ML 197 .A93
Dated, but covers composers ignored elsewhere.
Cook, Nicholas, and Anthony Pople. The Cambridge History of
Twentieth-Century Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
ML 197 .C26
A collection of essays on various repertoires and groups of composers.
Griffiths, Paul. Modern Music: The Avant Garde Since 1945. New
York: George Braziller, 1981. ML 197 .G74 M68
Among the best books on the post-war avant-garde.
Metzer, David. Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First
Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. ML
A study of music since 1980 as a distinct period in the history of modernism
Morgan, Robert P., ed. Modern Times: From World War I to the Present.
Music and Society. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1993.
ML 197 .M72 1993
A social history of music since 1918, useful as a
counterpoint to our focus on composers in this class.
Morgan, Robert P. Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in
Modern Europe and America. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991. ML 197
An excellent text.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed.
REFERENCE ML 100 .G92
The New Grove is the first place to look for information
about anyone and anything having to do with music. Read the articles on
composers; refer to the lists of works at the back of each article; see
articles on concepts (such as "Twelve-note composition"), nations,
and cities; and become familiar with this encyclopedia as a whole. This
is the musician's single most useful reference tool. An expanded and
partly updated version is at
Grove Music Online.
Nicholls, David. American Experimental Music, 1890-1940. Cambridge
and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. ML 200.5 .N55
A cogent history of the experimental tradition in American composition
from Charles Ives and Henry Cowell to the Second World War.
Nyman, Michael. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. 2nd ed.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ML 197 .N996 1999
A survey of experimental music since the 1950s.
Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. ML 197 .R76
A fascinating new look at twentieth-century classical music and its impact
on modern culture, by the music critic of The New Yorker.
Salzman, Eric. Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction. 4th ed.
Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2002. ML 197 .S17 2002
A good basic text, very inclusive for its relative brevity.
Slonimsky, Nicolas, ed. emeritus. Music Since 1900. 6th ed. by Laura
Kuhn. New York: Schirmer Reference, 2001. REFERENCE ML 197 .S634 2001
A delightful book, with a time-line of music
listing premieres, publications, riots, and other things, all
fully indexed. It has two sets of fine appendices:
documents (including manifestos, letters, speeches, and trial
transcripts--look up the HUAC hearings for Eisler and Copland) and a
dictionary of terms, many of Slonimsky's invention (such as
pandiatonicism, abecedenarianism, infra-modern music, and sonic
exuviation). The 4th edition is on reserve at ML 197 .S62 1971.
Taruskin, Richard. The Oxford History of Music. Vol. 4,
The Early Twentieth Century, and Vol. 5, The Late Twentieth
Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
ML 160 .T18 v.5 and v.6
A detailed, enlightening, and opinionated survey of music and its
Watkins, Glenn. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from
Stravinsky to the Postmodernists. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press, 1994. ML 197 .W29
Argues that collage, the juxtaposition of disparate
elements, is a central thread of modern music and art.
Watkins, Glenn. Soundings: Music in the Twentieth Century. New
York: Schirmer Books, 1988. ML 197 .W3
An excellent and very rich survey text.
Auner, Joseph, ed. A Schoenberg Reader: Documents of a Life.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. ML 410 .S28 A47
A collection of writings by Schoenberg.
Block, Geoffrey, and J. Peter Burkholder, eds. Charles Ives and the
Classical Tradition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. ML 410
A collection of essays that argue that Ives's music is
rooted in the European tradition and parallels the music of his European
contemporaries in significant ways.
Brand, Juliane, and Christopher Hailey, eds. Constructive Dissonance:
Arnold Schoenberg and the Transformations of Twentieth-Century Culture.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. ML 410 .S28 C66
A collection of essays on Schoenberg, his music, and his impact on modern
Burkholder, J. Peter, ed. Charles Ives and His World. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1996. ML 410 .I95 C33
Essays and documents on Ives and his music.
Cooke, Mervyn. Britten: War Requiem. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996. ML 410 .B83 C76
A guide to Britten's War Requiem and its background.
Frisch, Walter, ed. Schoenberg and His World. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1999. ML 410 .I95 C33
Essays and documents on Schoenberg and his music.
Gable, David, and Morgan, Robert P. Alban Berg: Historical and
Analytical Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. ML
410 .B47 A59
Papers from the Berg centennial conference held in Chicago in 1985.
Adorno, Theodor W. Philosophy of Modern Music. Trans. Anne G.
and Wesley V. Blomster. New York: Seabury Press, 1973. ML 197 .A3
Adorno is brilliant, difficult, infuriating, and probably
wrong as often as right. This book defends Schoenberg and attacks
Stravinsky. He may be barking up the wrong tree, but Adorno is full of
Albright, Daniel, ed. Modernism and Music: An Anthology of Sources.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. ML 197 .M73
A useful anthology of readings.
Boulez, Pierre. Notes of an Apprenticeship. Ed. Paule
Herbert Weinstock. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968. ML 60 .B762
Writings from early in Boulez's career, when he was among
the leaders of the new generation of composers in France and one of the
heros of the Darmstadt school.
Cage, John. Silence: Lectures and Writings. Middletown, Conn.:
Wesleyan University Press, 1961. ML 60 .C13
Cage opposes art as a category separate from life, and
suggests that what is most important is our experience of what is
happening now. If he interests you, he has several
more collections covering the next three decades.
Debussy, Claude. Debussy on Music: The Critical Writings of the Great
French Composer. Ed. François Lesure, trans. Richard Langham
Smith. New York: Knopf, 1977. ML 60 .D2 D2
A compilation of Debussy's journalistic criticism and interviews,
revealing many of his attitudes about music and musical life.
Fink, Robert. Repeating Ourselves: American Minimal Music as
Cultural Practice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
ML 197 .F54
Fink argues that "minimal" contemporary music embodies an "excess of
repetition" that reflects the repetitiveness of America's mass consumer
Hubbs, Nadine. The Queer Composition of America's Sound: Gay
Modernists, American Music, and National Identity. Berkeley: University
of California Press, 2004. ML 200.5 .H83
Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, and other gay composers
created the distinctive sound of American Music. Hubbs examines how their
sexuality shaped their music and thus has had a profound effect on
Ives, Charles. Essays Before a Sonata, The Majority, and Other
Ed. Howard Boatwright. New York: W. W. Norton, 1970. PS 3517 .V3
Ives's Essays Before a Sonata were an attempt to explain
what he was after in his Concord Sonata, but they include his most
compelling statement of his aesthetic point of view. A portion of the
"Epilogue" is required.
Lipman, Samuel. Music After Modernism. New York: Basic Books,
1979. ML 197 .L65
Music is in a bad way, what do we do now? Chapters on
Copland, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg are provocative, and
the one on Mahler is recommended to anyone who thinks Mahler is a great
composer. How would you answer Lipman?
Pleasants, Henry. The Agony of Modern Music. New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1955. ML 197 .P72
A classic: the first open-minded, well-argued, bitter polemic against all
modern music. Pleasants's arguments must be considered and refuted, not
merely ignored, in any defense of twentieth-century classical music.
Rochberg, George. The Aesthetics of Survival: A Composer's View of
Twentieth-Century Music. Ed. and with an introduction by William
Bolcom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984. ML 60 .R62 A3
Writings spanning three decades, from the mid-1950s, when Rochberg was a
disciple of twelve-tone music, to the early 1980s, when he had become an
opponent of modernism and was writing music that sounds like
Rockwell, John. All American Music: Composition in the Late Twentieth
Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. ML 200.5 .R62
Rockwell, a music critic for The New York Times, scans
the scene of music in the 1970s and early 1980s from Milton Babbitt and
John Cage to Stephen Sondheim and the Talking Heads.
Schoenberg, Arnold. Style and Idea: Selected Writings of Arnold
Schoenberg. Ed. Leonard Stein, with translations by Leo Black. London:
Faber & Faber, 1975. ML 60 .S33 1975
Schoenberg has many interesting things to say, defending
and explaining his own music, extolling composers like Brahms and Mahler,
attacking his attackers, and so on. His essays are at times witty, at
times painful, often fun, always intelligent.
Schwartz, Elliott, and Childs, Barney, eds. Contemporary Composers on
Contemporary Music. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,
1967. ML 197 .S398
Simms, Bryan R., ed. Composers on Modern Musical Culture: An Anthology
of Readings on Twentieth-Century Music. New York: Schirmer Books,
1999. ML 197 .C6775
Both are collections of writings by composers.
Straus, Joseph N. Remaking the Past: Musical Modernism and the Influence
of the Tonal Tradition. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1990. ML 197 .S787
Applies Harold Bloom's theory of "the anxiety of influence" to music and
shows how Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartók, Berg,
and Webern responded to and reinterpreted the music of the past.
Stravinsky, Igor. Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons.
Trans. Arthur Knodel and Ingolf Dahl. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1970. ML 410 .S93 A122
Stravinsky's Norton lectures at Harvard 1939-40, detailing his
Webern, Anton. The Path to the New Music. Ed. Willi Reich, trans.
Leo Black. Bryn Mawr: Theodore Presser, 1963. ML 197 .W373
A brief outline of Webern's view of music history in the
form of transcripts of two lecture series, "The Path to the New Music"
and "The Path to Twelve-Note Composition."
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Last updated: 7 January 2011
Copyright © 1998-2011 by J. Peter Burkholder