Inside the Music | Serialism | Contemporary | Classical
By the 1950s, Modernism in its new manifestations was well established, with strongholds in the Darmstadt courses and at the Donaueschingen Festival, as well as in Paris and Cologne. Its strength was increasingly felt in the US as well as Europe, with Babbitt, Wolpe and Carter all evolving individual lines of development. The most striking instance of its impact, however, was on Stravinsky, widely regarded as the greatest composer living. Although in his seventies and resident in America, he remained acutely alert both to Viennese serialism and the music of Europe’s younger generation. If the ballet score Agon (1954–57) represented the point of Stravinsky’s transition from neo-classical to serialist composer, Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958–59) shows the traces of Webern and Schoenberg even more clearly. Stravinsky rarely adopted serialism in its purest form, however, often using repeated notes and making independent use of smaller units from within the note-row to suit his own ends, while distinctive fingerprints in orchestration, chord spacing, sprung rhythms and verse/refrain forms remained to the end.
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