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New Ears for New Music

Translated by Kenneth Chalmers

Constantin Floros

20th-century music is characterized by a bewildering multitude of trends and movements. Often several movements co-exist in contradiction to each other, in a reflection of the century’s intellectual currents and social and political changes, and the reactions they prompted. In this book, renowned musicologist and author Constantin Floros provides a survey of the different styles and tendencies in new music, presenting the most important composers from Schoenberg to Rihm in a series of fluent and readable essays that will appeal to connoisseurs and non-specialists alike. For Floros, music and biography are inseparable, and here he puts music in the context of the social and psychological background of its time.
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Nationalism and Folklorism


As is well known, nationalism, as an artistic movement, left a particular mark on European music in the 19th century. As well as an awakening of national awareness among many peoples, political, social, spiritual and psychological factors also played a significant role in the emergence of the movement. A number of composers in several European countries sought to emancipate themselves from the dominance of the leading musical cultures of Italy, Germany and France. They felt they had discovered in their native folksong an untapped source for the creation of an indigenous national art. Nationalism and folklore are not merely closely connected in music, they are actually two different aspects of the same thing. In the 19th century it was the Spanish, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Russians, Hungarians, Bohemians and Czechs who came to the fore with their own national music, and these aspirations continued in the first half of the 20th century, albeit in sometimes different terms. Edvard Grieg in Norway, Jean Sibelius in Finland, Stravinsky in Russia, Isaac and Manuel de Falla in Spain, Respighi in Italy, Bartók and Kodály in Hungary, and Manolis Kalomiris and Emilios Riadis in Greece looked at their national legacy and in a variety of ways sought to inject new blood by including folkloristic elements of their countries’ national music.

There is every indication that these attempts were regarded with a great deal of scepticism in German and Austria. Certainly, Mahler did not display the least understanding of them. At the...

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