thumbnail of Contemporary Music in Evolution; 18; 1945
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
What more work remains from 1945 that I should like to play for you before moving on to 1946. And that is to Evan he can show it all. This is a unique work instruments put on mine a Jim sort of minor gem written for a special set of circumstances in one thousand forty four and forty five. Jazz was feeling the first thoroughgoing effect it was stylistically juva nation. This new style which unhappily became known by the ridiculous name of Bach or bebop was characterized by a greater freedom in all the various musical elements harmony melody rhythm form and structure and even instrumentation. These stylistic changes were spearheaded primarily by the great alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and his colleague Dizzy Gillespie a most remarkable trumpet player and musician. The new style had developed in the main through the work of these two musicians and the various groups they played with with kids which consisted largely of Negro
musicians are the first white jazz group to be radically influenced by this new style. Was the band of Woody Herman in fact some of the arrangements and compositions played by Herman's band were made by the aforementioned Gillespie and many of the other pieces the band played included material or phrases similar to those played by Gillespie in his own improvisations. It is interesting to note that the music of Gillespie was much easier to assimilate and to imitate than that of Charlie Parker Charlie Parker is musically occupying a position in jazz somewhat like the late Beethoven quartets doing classical music that is to say they are highly respected but actually very little understood even by jazz buffs and aficionados and so-called jazz authorities. In any case on the basis of these borrowings from the new bop language as expounded by Gillespie the Woody Herman band soon became the rage of the country and even seriously competed with the commercial dance
bands. And then very popular during the waning war years. So it was perhaps inevitable that Stravinsky would sooner or later encounter the Woody Herman aggregation since he had always maintained a mild interest in jazz even though he wrote no works showing a direct jazz influence since 1918 Stravinsky heard the Hermann band and when asked if he might write a piece for the group for a Carnegie Hall concert. Stravinsky impressed by the playing of the group decided to accommodate them and write a miniature concerto featuring to a large extent a solo clarinet. That being the instrument of the band's leader Woody Herman and therefore the title Ebony Concerto in the jazz for an ocular In fact the clarinet is often called or was called in those days the ebony stick. People who expect that at long last the word by Stravinsky which would really be jazz must have been greatly disappointed. Stravinsky wrote not jazz but more Stravinsky.
And it is just as well since it is highly unlikely that Stravinsky could really turn out a true jazz work and he certainly would have balked at including improvisation which is after all the heart and soul of jazz Evony concerto was entirely composed and makes no concessions to jazz styles in general and certainly none to the aforementioned pop style. In effect Stravinsky did no more than to compose a work roughly in the style of his earliest and the ballet for a jazz instrumentation and for jazz sonorities as a concession to his own stylistic concept Stravinsky added to the normal jazz band instrumentation of five saxophones five trumpets three trombone and rhythm a bass clarinet differential and the harp. And these instruments he used in his own typical manner and even the conventional jazz rhythm instruments were not used in conventional jazz terms. But as in Stravinsky is on neo classic style. These were the years when Stravinsky was approaching the end of his neo classic coup the sack.
At least this is my opinion and it was not too many years later that he was to start experimenting with the 12 tone method and other concepts. But it seems to me that the ebony concerto gave Stravinsky a kind of temporary boost. There was yet one more angle to be explored in the neo classic concept. Somehow the playing around with jazz sonorities intrigued him long enough to achieve this work which in its conciseness and clarity and in its modesty is I feel superior to most of the Stravinsky works of the 1940s. No.
You're. You're you're you're. You're. You're. Willow A. Hundred.
And thirty. You just heard a superb performance of Stravinsky's 1045 Evony concerto moving on to 1946. I now offer two works in the ADD tonal idiom Schoenberg's string trio and the flutes and the Tina bliss. It may come as a surprise to some of you that I work by the controversial French composer Boulez figures on this series as early as nine hundred forty six. When writing the flutes and Boulez was 21 going on 22. The fact that you might keep in mind while listening to this remarkable work. To most people
was not even a name until the mid 50s and even many of us younger composers did not hear about this new phone terrible music until 1951 of fifty two. So to have a work as composed as early as 1946 is surprising and also of course of of great value in it we can thus hear the foreshadowing of certain concepts which have revolutionised and reorganized contemporary musical thinking since then. I should add at this point that the bullet bullets flutes and Athena was a revised and updated in the mid 50s and therefore embodies many of Boulez's later innovations and thus is no longer completely representative of the Boulez of 1946. I have never seen the original version of the Sonata Teena and cannot therefore comment on the extent and degree of the revisions. But I am certain that these were intended mainly to bring the original work closer into line with his later rhythmic serial and as a matter of precepts.
I will go into these precepts in greater detail in connection with some of his later works. For the moment perhaps some general remarks will suffice. Boulez had studied in Paris with both the NE live of its early via misyar from labor which he gained a thorough analytical understanding of the works of Schoenberg and they have been to the extent that these were available in war torn Europe in 1944 and 1945 through misyar became aware of a higher degree of what we might call metric variability and metric as symmetry. I have not been able to play much of the music of misyar on the series because so little is available on records. But in his works during the 30s and 40s misyar developed a highly individual rhythmic and metric concept which treated rhythms not as confining rigorous patterns which were either varied by multiplying or by dividing. But as a kind of free floating
unconfined continuum many of messy middle period organ works have no set metric patterns no meter signatures. They are simply conceived as phrases of irregular length and pattern and their total metric value is of no particular concern. One measure might be 15 16s and be written to boot in quarter notes rather than in 16 values in the next measure might be thirty three sixteenths in the next eleven sixteenths and so on. The process has a purely was a purely additive one based not on metric units but on phrase structures. And this new rhythmic freedom hinted at in the rite of spring back in 1913 and in Debussy's late works finally led in the 40's to do his famous rhythmic series concept which he which which was the breakthrough point that led to total serialization. At any rate in 1046 Boulez was able to combine the 12 tone
technique as pushed to its extreme by Bieber and his variations and in the country those with missing burgeoning series of rhythmic freedom and the first work to assimilate these two concepts was the flute sonatina. The work is especially interesting since it combines two opposing compositional procedures on the one hand Boulez's who are still dealing with thematic material with themes and motives. As such they are still used in various traditional ways. There is for instance even an example of conventional canonic imitation in this work and there are repetitions and Recapitulations procedures Boulez was to rule out entirely in his later works. Well as I was saying there is on the one hand this use of thematic material and on the other hand an emetic procedure which is based on the development of rhythmic cells rather than themes much in the manner of the rhythmic techniques used in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by
composers like the fly in my show. This kind of thing had of course been done already by Veron but Boulez was able to seize upon these ideas and use them in particularly personal and incidentally very French and Germanic ways. These two opposing principles the thematic views of the ather matic were not yet resolved or reconciled in this flutes and I Tina. And it would indeed have been too much to expect the solution to this problem from a 21 year old composer. But I do think it is a kind of post facto rationalization on the part of Boulez to make this dual approach look like nothing more than a fully conscious dialectic. I think Bullis was not yet ready to do more that came later. But it would be nice if he were willing to admit it. But that's certainly a minor point. The main point is that this compositional split personality does not destroy the unity of the work. It affects it somewhat but not enough to destroy it.
And here I certainly feel that Boulez's musicianship and sense of form was so strong that it was able to override these procedural pitfalls. I also feel that the influence of the ABC which is clearly audible in this music acted strongly as a kind of catalytic mitigating factor. The Debussy influence is most notable of course in the Impressionist opening of the work. But it is also present although not as immediately audible in the brilliance good Sandoz sections of the work where the superimposition of various rhythmic cells reminds one that Debussy had foreseen this already in his great orchestral masterpiece. Then there are the vibrant influences of the 12 tone row is used very much as in the late babe and works largely and transposed but subjected to internal cellular permutations in the second skits under Section blows is clearly indebted to the variational technique they've been employed in his Piano Variations.
In fact the piano part here is little more than a kind of sped up galvanised version of a band's piano style but this galvanization is also a crucial important point because Boulez was able to take their own style which had reached a kind of rhythmic impasse I think and which was even at its most lyric comparatively static. And he was able to give it a rhythmic momentum and under deniable dynamic quality he was also able to infuse the brandy in poetics with a quasi improvisational concept which again had been foreshadowed by Debussy. And lastly he was able to return to the larger forms. Paradoxically those very forms that they've been had felt the need to reject the classical Sonata forms Boulez has stated that basically the form of his flutes and Athena was derived from Schoenberg's Opus 9 Chamber Symphony which combines the symphonic forms into one single four part structure. This isn't
Athena with some minor exceptions such as the final echoing recapitulation of the opening follows this plan and there are many striking formal similarities to Schoenberg really chamber work. To sum up then we can say that the Boulez foods and the Tina catches the composer at a crucial transitional stage not only as far as his own development goes but also in terms of the development of music in general. The work sort of combines the various loose ends left by Deborah S.. They've been shown Vogue and messy. And makes a first tentative stab to analyze in effect the discrepancies still latent in these four composers methods and then to assimilate them into a new musical poetics. This is simulation was not to be fully achieved for a number of years but the lucidity and uncompromising directness with which Bill is tackled these problems in the flute Sonata are already evident in every page of the work.
The flute is played now by the flutist Severino Gazza Lonnie and the pianist David tutor. Why. Why.
Oh. Move.
Her. Were.
What. Why.
That was a performance of the flutes in 1946 by pure
bliss. And the performers were the remarkable flutist 70 you know Gazza Lonnie and the equally remarkable pianist David Tudor. The next and final work on this program is run by a string trio. And perhaps in view of my comments on the Boulez work no better word could have been found as a companion piece. Not that these two works are in any way alike. On the contrary Schoenberg's trio in no way illustrates perfectly this stylistic stagnation the orthodox 12 tone school found itself in. By this time. In playing the string trio I would like to make two points clear. First the work basically falls into those almost new classic works and sure invokes later period in which 12 tone pitch relationships are grafted onto forms and rhythmic concepts which are opposed to such relationships. But secondly I want to point out that this
trio was the first work in which Schoenberg seemed to become aware of these basic discrepancies and was beginning to grope for a freer rhythmic language and a less stylized continuity unlike the later string quartets and the two concertos the piano violin Journal. No longer felt in these works compelled to continue his rhythmic patterns and developments in his obviously continuous A-line he was no longer afraid to break up these patterns and a refreshing freeness and contrast where the immediate result also a greater lyricism. Schoenberg truly inspired in this work no longer felt strangled by the Priori schemes of his forms and the various Recapitulations and structure inversions seem to come out of sheer musical necessity not dictated arbitrarily by the formal plan. Without abandoning classic classical forms entirely Schoenberg was able to free himself from their
strictures. Casting the piece in a sort of one movement fantasy was in itself indicative of this new approach. However even with this added formal fluency and diversity you will be able to appreciate the vast difference I'm sure. The vast difference in concept between this work and the previous Boulez Sonata so not enough. I am not necessarily making qualitative comparisons now just stylistic ones. But it does make clear in one fell swoop what I have had a period between the work of the 72 year old Schoenberg and the latest progeny of his 12 tone series by a 21 year old youngster named Bull as the last musical ideas and styles move relentlessly on as relentlessly as life itself. A string trio is played now on an old dial LP in a rather good performance. Certainly good for those days by the cold
dusky trio. I'll call up ski violin Cecil figure out ski Viola and George and I could cello Schoenberg string trio. You're.
Essentially that was the string trio Opus 45 final Schanberg with nine thousand nine hundred forty six. And with that work I've come to the end of another program in the series contemporary music and evolution. I'll be back next week with more music from 1946 and possibly from 1947.
Contemporary Music in Evolution
Episode Number
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-jm23gq7v).
Series Description
Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
Recorded Music
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Host: Schuller, Gunther
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:56:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 18; 1945,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 18; 1945.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 18; 1945. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from