Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Classical music of the past 100 years [3] 1938-1947

Too many listeners of classical music think that over the past 100 years or so, nothing worthwhile has been composed. In this recurring series, I will be posting one composition per year from 1918 until 2017, with every selected composer featuring only once (and not necessarily with their imo best work). I'm aiming for composers who represent the more modern age, skipping many famous names from before 1918 who also composed in this time slot (such as Sibelius and Richard Strauss). Overall I wanted to get a reasonable mix of symphonies, concertos, other orchestral works, chamber music, solo instrumental compositions, and vocal creations, but excluding opera altogether. I have grouped the works per period of ten years, with one post per month for each subsequent decade. Youtube links are not included as they tend to disappear with time - they are easily googled anyway. If you like classical music, but are reluctant to explore the 20th and 21st century works, this series of posts might give you a bit of a nudge to start listening.

1938 Webern - String quartet
1939 Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky cantata
1940 Lilburn - Aotearoa overture
1941 Messiaen - Quatuor pour la fin du temps
1942 Schoenberg - Piano concerto
1943 Martin - Der Cornet
1944 Moroi - Symphony 3
1945 Moeran - Cello concerto
1946 Villa-Lobos – String Quartet No. 10
1947 Barber - Knoxville: Summer of 1915

In this third helping, we once more find a mix of famous names, and almost unknowns. Schoenberg and Webern are key representatives of the second Viennese school. Prokofiev, listed here with my favourite work from his repertoire, also does not require introduction. France's Messiaen is widely acknowledged as one of the most important composers of the century - this quartet was composed while he was in a prisoner-of-war camp. Then we have Brazil's Villa-Lobos and the American Barber - both best known for a single composition, and both very rewarding composers to explore in depth (Knoxville is one of my all-time favourite compositions for voice and orchestra). The three others are really hidden treasures. Lilburn from New Zealand, Martin from Switzerland, and Britains Moeran - with the most beautiful cello concerto ever composed (imho).

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