Piero Scaruffi's
History of Avantgarde Music

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.


TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

While some were indulging in ever more abstract sounds and techniques, others returned to the past. The prevailing postmodernist aesthetic fostered the use of "quotation" from the past in the composition of new works. Shostakovich himself was among the practitioners of quotation. George Rochberg (USA, 1918) with Contra Mortem Et Tempus (1965), Bernd Zimmermann (Germany, 1918) with Die Soldaten (1964), and George Crumb (USA, 1929) with Ancient Voices of Children (1970) achieved significant results. Fascinated with madness and isolation, Peter Maxwell Davies (Britain, 1934) seemed to reflect on the avantgarde itself with the stylistic pastiches of St Thomas Wake (1969) and Worldes Blis (1969), which would be expressionistic if not for the strong doses of self-parody. The work of Luciano Berio (Italy, 1925) went beyond mere quotation, and stood as a semiotic study of human language at several levels, for example in the Sinfonia (1968).

The nostalgics could also find solace in the opera, which remained mostly anchored to traditional harmony: The Consul (1950) by Giancarlo Menotti (Italy, 1911), Don Rodrigo (1964) by Alberto Ginastera (Argentina, 1916), Bassarids (1965) by Hans Henze (Germany, 1926), Ghosts of Versailles (1991) by John Corigliano (USA, 1938), The Death of a Composer (1994) by Louis Andriessen (Holland, 1939), Florencia en el Amazonas (1996) by Daniel Catan (Mexico, 1941), Waking in New York (1998) by Elodie Lauten (USA, 1951), Valis (1987) by Tod Machover (USA, 1953), Emmeline (1996) by Tobias Picker (USA, 1954), Weather (1999) by Michael Gordon (USA, 1956), Ghost Opera (1994) by Tan Dun (China, 1957), Powder Her Face (1995) by Thomas Ades (Britain, 1971), Nanking! Nanking! (1999) by Bright Sheng (China, 1955), etc.

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.