Impressionism to modernism
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Impressionism to Modernism. A synopsis of music history. Impressionism: An overview. Composers tried to create a dreamlike quaility that mimicked the art of the era Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh were two important Impressionistic painters

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Impressionism to Modernism

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Impressionism to Modernism

A synopsis of music history

Impressionism: An overview

  • Composers tried to create a dreamlike quaility that mimicked the art of the era

  • Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh were two important Impressionistic painters

  • Art tended to appear unfocused up close, but gained focus as you moved away, so music also could appear unfocused at first listen

  • Music used musical elements to evoke a particular mood or image in the mind of the listener, much like a painting

Visual Art Example 1: Monet

Visual Art Example 2: Renoir

Visual Art Example 3: Cassatt

Musical Characteristics

  • Atonal- Lacking a tonal center or key

  • Whole Tone- A musical interval of two semitones (half step)

  • Modes- Similar to the old church modes

  • Lydian-C D E F G A B C

  • Dorian-D E F G A B C D

  • Phrygian C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

Claude Debussy

  • 1862-1918, French

  • Studied at the Paris Conservatory and in Rome, but influences ranged from Wagner to Javanese music

  • Used to Phrygian mode along with other lesser known modes

  • Main works were orchestral pieces, piano sets, and songs

  • Associated his later music with visual impressions of the East, Spain, landscapes etc, in a sequence of sets of short pieces.

  • Died of cancer

Clare de Lune


Golliwog’s Cakewalk

Maurice Ravel

  • 1876-1937

  • Studied at the Paris Conservatory

  • Failed to win the Prix de Rome 5 times and left to work as a freelance musician

  • Fascinated with creating music that evoked a far away place or idea

  • Wrote everything from piano pieces to ballet to opera

  • His last major effort was a pair of piano concertos, one joyful and urban, one(for left hand only) more dark and solid.

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero

Modern Music

  • A bit more atonal than Impressionistic music

  • Development to the 12-tone music

  • 12-tone music: all 12 notes of the chromatic scale is used in a particular, reoccurring order

Visual Art Example 4: Jackson Pollack

Visual Art Example 5: Matisse

Visual Example 4: Picaso

Anton Schoenburg

  • 1874-1951

  • Born in Vienna, Austria but moved to L.A.

  • Played and composed from a young age, but didn’t have formal training until his teens

  • Developed the “Serial” method of 12-tone music

  • Serial Method: A mathematical formal comprised of tone rows that dictated the form in which the notes were composed

  • Also developed Sprechgesang, or singing-speech

  • Once in America, returned to more of a tonal sound

  • Taught a UCLA

Tone Row Matrix


Schoenberg Piano Concerto

Anton Webern

  • 1883-1945

  • Austrian

  • Studied composition under Schoenburg

  • Made a career as a conductor

  • Was obsessed with 12-tone music and once learned, never composed any other way again

  • Was accidentally shot by a soldier at the end of WWII

  • Left only about 3 hours worth of music

Webern’s Music

Webern Concerto for 9 Instruments

Bela Bartok

  • 1881-1945

  • Hungarian, moved to New York

  • Attended Budapest Academy and studied under a former student of Franz Liszt

  • Transcribed a lot of Hungarian folk songs

  • Made a career as a pianist

  • Influenced by Debussy and Schoenburg

  • Wrote his final work, Piano Concerto no. 3 to provide his widow with income when he died

Bartok plays Bartok

Microcosmos 1

Microcosmos 153

Igor Stravinsky

  • 1882-1971

  • Russian

  • Parents wanted him to be a lawyer

  • Moved to New York, then L.A.

  • Lived near Schoenberg

  • Dabbled in 12-tone serialism

  • Wrote modern symphonies in a neo-classical manner

  • Music sometimes caused rioting, as in “Rite of Spring” and his version of “The Star Spangles Banner”

Stravinsky by Picaso

Rite of Spring

Stravinsky Conducting The Firebird Suit

Stravinksy’s Star Spangled Banner

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