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New Ears for New Music by Constantin Floros

By Constantin Floros

20th-century track is characterised by means of a bewildering multitude of traits and pursuits. usually a number of routine co-exist in contradiction to one another, in a mirrored image of the century’s highbrow currents and social and political alterations, and the reactions they brought on. during this booklet, popular musicologist and writer Constantin Floros presents a survey of the several kinds and developments in new track, featuring crucial composers from Schoenberg to Rihm in a chain of fluent and readable essays that would attract connoisseurs and non-specialists alike. For Floros, track and biography are inseparable, and the following he places track within the context of the social and mental history of its time.

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Of 1924. This essay, written as a contribution to the Schoenberg-Festschrift, is far more than a homage to Schoenberg. ”22 There is no doubt about it: Schoenberg and his pupils were, from time to time, inspired by a sense of mission. In February 1931, at the time when he was working on Moses und Aron, Schoenberg drafted the essay National Music in which he formulated his thoughts on the question of hegemony in the arts. The fundamental idea of the essay is that the arts are bound up with race and nationality.

The real point, of course, is that twelve-note composition represents something new in terms of method and style, for which there are no historical parallels. It should have become clear that for Schoenberg and his pupils the intellectual content and veracity of a work lay not just in the expression of inner feeling and in ideological messages, but also in a composer’s earnest striving to create a structure completely lacking in decorative ornament, and a rigorous internal coherence whereby every note is accounted for.

In countless writings he tirelessly exalted the “German spirit” and “German character”, invoking both Goethe and Schiller as well as Bach and Beethoven. The paired opposites “German” and “un-German” music not only denote specific artistic issues but have national, nationalist, chauvinist, ideological and political implications as well. To grasp some of these implications, it should be kept in mind that a characteristic feature of the 19th century was an overwhelming nationalism – an intellectual movement that seems quite alien and incomprehensible to us now.

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