View Full Version : Books about 20th Century Classical

06-08-2008, 05:31 PM
Are there any good ones?

Ideally I'm after an overview / history of most of the 20th century (particularly one focussing more on avante garde stuff, not just Shos, Britten, Copeland etc) although I'd also be interested in things covering specific composers or scenes if they were good.

It'd be nice to find something that isn't afraid to get technical and cover the nuts and bolts of the techniques and forms involved as well, I'm a bit pedantic and get annoyed by things that expect you to understand the history of the ideas while only giving you a rough overview of what the ideas actually are.

06-08-2008, 06:07 PM
Alex Ross's "The Rest is Noise" is good. Runs the gamut from Sibelius, Stravinsky, Webern to Boulez, Britten, Copeland and every one in between but also good on some of the lesser known US figures.

Its for the general reader, but he seems quite good at convaying the ideas at work (e.g. serialism). Its not 'technical' though.

His blog is good too.


06-08-2008, 10:10 PM
this is quite a good starter:

Paul Griffiths - Modern Music (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Modern-Music-Concise-History-World/dp/0500202788/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218056879&sr=8-1)

and it looks nice as well :)

13-08-2008, 11:36 AM
Are there any good ones?
particularly one focussing more on avante garde stuff, not just Shos, Britten, Copeland etc

Skip Alex Ross then, he's pretty weak on the avant garde. Paul Griffiths is probably your man - Modern Music and After is your book. Also try Arnold Whittall's Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century.

3 Body No Problem
13-08-2008, 01:23 PM
I would not recommend "And the rest is noise" either, if you are after interesting technical discussions. ATRIS is mostly biographical.

13-08-2008, 09:48 PM
Another Arnold Whittall book that's also good, if fairly heavily analytical at times: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2oEreRbGLdcC&dq=arnold+whittall&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0

27-12-2008, 01:32 PM
I randomly got And The Rest Is Noise for christmas and am part of the way through it.

It's really good. It is pretty light on the technical details, but that's not really the point of it. What's interesting is the way that he seems to be a lot more receptive to the music than he is to the accompanying rubric - that he can love the sonic artefacts produced by Schoenberg or Stockhausen without believing that any musician who has not experienced the necessity of Schoenberg's methods is USELESS or that any musician who isn't inaccessible and avante-garde is basically writing consumerist muzak. I guess that now I'd be quite interested to read something a bit more defensive that side of criticism.

He doesn't seem to have much time for Adorno, either, but does anyone think that much of Adorno's actual pronouncements on culture these days?

27-12-2008, 03:35 PM
I randomly got And The Rest Is Noise for christmas

that's funny so did I... never heard of it b4. looks interesting tho

27-12-2008, 03:48 PM
that's funny so did I... never heard of it b4. looks interesting tho

And so did I. Only just started it and I'm already seeing that there is going to be a lot of music I am going to have to pick up

27-12-2008, 07:56 PM
I randomly got The Rest Is Noise for christmas and am part of the way through it.

I nearly picked that up myself last week
guess I'll have to go back into town and get it


03-01-2009, 05:09 PM
from a buddy of mine:

Ok, here is my own kind of incompetent, but complete, scan of the English translation (and revised edition) of Iannis Xenakis' FORMALIZED MUSIC. As far as I can tell, the scan is very good and clear, but the entire file is 550mb; this isn't particularly practical or acceptable, but every time I changed the dpi rate or other parameters using Acrobat, the clarity took a noticeable dive. Any help would be much appreciated so future scans are not so huge, and maybe somebody with skillz can download this one and reduce it while keeping it looking sharp? Also some pics excerpted from this book, just to whet ya'll's appetites (these actually look like shit here, much much better in the scanned document....I converted them to jpg and the quality took a dive):

some excerpts:


05-01-2009, 12:14 AM
Four Musical Minimalists (http://www.amazon.com/Four-Musical-Minimalists-Twentieth-Century/dp/0521015014) got good reviews but I haven't read it yet... its on my Amazon wishlist...