Missing modern music? Karol Beffa gives you the keys

At the beginning of the 20th century, a schism arose in music over tonality. On the one hand, the pursuit of tonal, impressionist and symbolist music, as claimed by French composers. On the other hand, the evolution of the post-Mahlerian musical language is advocated by the composers of the second Viennese school. The latter want to go beyond the principles of tonality in favor of atonality, dodecaphonism and serialism. This radical vision, advanced by the musician and philosopher Theodor Adorno, would have the effect of covering up musical trends that did not conform to the adornist, rigid and dominant view:

[1945-ciiləqədərDebussyvəRavelinardıncagələnfransız-rusmüasirliyivaridiBumüasirlikalaqaranlıqdandahagünəşliahəngsizdəndahasamitidibizüçVyanaBerqŞonberqvəVeberninbəzəkmüasirliyiiləmüqayisədəbunaməhəlqoymuruq “, bəstəkar, pianoçu və Franko-İsveçrəli akademik, kitabın müəllifi Karol Beffa izah edir. Digər musiqi 20 əsr (Buchet-Chastel, 2022).

Musiqişünas, filosof və sosioloq Teodor V. Adorno
Musiqişünas, filosof və sosioloq Teodor V. Adorno

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– brandstaetter şəkilləri


[1945-ciildənsonrabudahadamürəkkəbləşdiMübarizbiryolvariditabularasatutmaqidivəuzunmüddətmusiqitarixindədeməkolarkiyeganənəzərəalındıBuyolözoxunudiktəedirdi:1940-cıillərinsonlarındainteqralserializminqilabındansonraaçıqişvətəsadüfilikinqilabıolacaqdıVəbirazsonraspektralmusiqinininqilabı [basée sur le timbre du son musical, NLDR]roughly contemporary with the minimalist revolution By La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass*. »*

It is obviously possible to synthesize the evolution of 20th-century styles in a linear fashion, but this approach involves taking the risk of adopting a reductionist and sequential view: “ There is a tendency in this view of history to see each generation following the previous generation, which I find problematic. “Carol warns Beffa.

1 hour 28

An assessment of 20th and 21st century topography

How has our view of the dominant figures and major musical movements of the previous century evolved? The main lines have been drawn and the main currents have been identified. However, our perception of the musical landscape of the 20th century continues to change due to our continuous discoveries and reassessments:

With feminist fashion, we have been able to rediscover a number of female composers. And the advent of the CD 40 years ago allowed us to discover or rediscover repertoire and rare composers. But I don’t think that in the future we’ll be doing major revaluations for 18th-century music like those that are still possible for some of the music of the 20th–music that’s being re-evaluated almost every year. “, emphasizes Karol Beffa.

These mass revaluations are largely due to the increase in the number of recordings produced, which allows audiences to gain insight into a composer’s work in a short period of time. The dissemination of these recordings, with more recent digital listening, allows a wider audience to rediscover and re-evaluate the musical topography of the 20th century.

1 hour 59

Do we have to choose sides in the 21st century?

If it is now easier to study 20th century music, its schools and trends with a critical eye, what about this new millennium? It is still difficult to objectively observe the influences and movements of the 21st century music scene. However, it is already possible to identify certain main currents:

I know of few composers today who claim pure and strict serialism, but there must be some. Some write with a combination that can evoke serialism. I think there is a current in music today that we might better call “uncompromising atonal” and tends to reject consonance purely and simply. There is a trend that has become perhaps a little academic, and that is oversaturation », Karol Beffa says.

59 min

Therefore, there would not be a dominant style, but rather a plurality of different styles, sometimes adopted by the same composer. Are there still stylistic and ideological churches that can unite several composers under one and the same idea?

I would say that today composers of extremely different styles live side by side. I don’t think that the churches have disappeared, but let’s say that the composer is no longer forced to choose his camp, he is not called. The simple fact of not asking this question, in my opinion, gives more freedom because one is not bound by the dictates of the music establishment or the critics to choose sides at all costs. “Sums up Beffa.

If there is now freedom to claim a musical identity, the financing of music remains a determining factor in the commissioning and creation of the work: “ In the United States, for example, there is a certain aesthetic pluralism with many different currents. Clearly, the most atonal and least accessible music has no other means of expression than on campuses. It is sponsored by the art departments of some universities, like other arts considered experimental. In Europe, as in the United States, the question of finance remains important “, adds Beffa.

Composer profession and devotion to music

The history of modern music, like the profession of composition, is constantly evolving. A century ago, a versatile artist, far from his colleagues of a century ago, moved towards specialization in his profession:

Almost all composers 150 years ago were excellent instrumentalists. They were all pianists or maybe violinists. Since 1945, some composers have made careers as conductors, and conversely some conductors have started composing, but it is very rare for a composer to also be an instrumentalist. This is due to the increasing specialization in both fields, in the field of composition, and especially in the field of interpretation. »

26 min

Added to this is the independence of the composer, who can now exist and function independently, especially from the music publishing industry, where he was heavily dependent in the past.

Even if the publisher still plays an important role, it is conceivable that a composer would not have a publisher today – it would have been unthinkable 40 or 50 years ago. Today, a composer can promote himself through his website and send the material of his works to artists in need. But we will always be inclined to think, rightly or wrongly, that a published composer is better than one who is not. »

The composer also became a public figure, more connected to the public discourse of his time. Many are engaged in socio-political discourse related to ecology, terrorism, feminism and discrimination.

The commitment to music has always been there. On the other hand, works written to “save the planet” so to speak – some already exist and many more to come – are a recent phenomenon, it’s just that awareness of environmental issues has not been as acute. years ago. It seems to me that, along with aesthetic issues, one should also be wary of the possibility that an artist will only be taken seriously if they write faithful music. Karol Beffa concludes.

  • Consider the controversial 2012 College de France seminar Atonalism and After.

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