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Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America (The Norton Introduction to Music History) 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393952728
ISBN-10: 039395272X
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  • Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America (The Norton Introduction to Music History)
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Total price: $169.01
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This series presents the music of the Western world to the nonspecialist in six original, strikingly illustrated volumes. In each one, an outstanding musicologist surveys the music of a specific period, discusses its major composers, and examines the forces that influenced and helped shape their oeuvre.

About the Author

Robert P. Morgan, historian, composer, and theorist, received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and is currently on the music faculty at Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Norton Introduction to Music History
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039395272X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393952728
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Morgan's book is the best that I have found for an overview of the entire 20th century in "classical" music. He divides his analysis into 3 logical sections:

Part 1. Beyond Tonality: From 1900 to World War I

Part 2. Reconstruction and New Systems: Between the Wars

Part 3. Innovation and Fragmentation: From WWII to the Present

This allows for some nuance that a simple list of composers often misses. For instance, Schoenberg's "atonal revolution" is covered in Part 1, along with the "new tonalities" of Stravinsky and Bartok. Part 2 covers the origin of the "twelve-tone system," but makes clear that it did not become influential until years later with the "serial revolution" in France, led by Messiaen and Boulez, in Part 3.

As others have noted, Morgan is not as strong on the more recent period, partly because the book was published in 1991 and thus misses such phenomena as Schnittke's surge of popularity, especially in Russia and Europe, after the collapse of the Soviet regime.

I recommend two other books along with Morgan: 1) Gann's American Music in the Twentieth Century, which covers developments in the U.S. in greater detail, thus including for instance one of my favorites, Roger Reynolds, and 2) Griffiths' masterful Modern Music and After, which begins after the Second World War.
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Format: Hardcover
As we end the 20th century, we may not realize that 20th
century music covers the same time span as the 19th
century Romantic music period. Have we grasped the meaning
of modern music. To do this one needs to understand the
history as well as the dynamics of 20th century music.

Here is a book that fills the bill. Not only does Mr. Morgan
discuss the growth and change in 20th century music but he
does it in it's historical context of our maturing as a
world. For many the atonality of 20th century music is hard
to grasp, especially when concert artists and orchestras
continue to emphasize in their repatoire 19th century music. But as the world changes so will music. A book to awaken your interest in 20th century music and the composers who were the leaders of this period.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a huge fan of TV's intellectual-crime-mix show WHITE COLLAR, I wanted an art form I could deeply study and enjoy at the same time. I knew that would be something western music. I have loved my deep dive into 20th century western compositional music, now about a year in. Like learning to golf from the greens back, my affair with western composition music has been a reverse exploration of history.

Here is the boring story. Before this, I was already a Mozart fan, respected the rest, and actually knew a little about Stravinsky's major works. I tried studying the content chronologically, with two text books and some anthology CD sets. I might have quit at the chants, could have split at Baroque, but got saved by Mozart (again). In the meantime, I was falling under the spell of the other books, especially Alex Ross's THE REST IS NOISE. His narrative mix of light history, cultural context, and well placed snippets of humor and interesting quotes made me realize that the eclectic and fast shifting 20th century would hold my interests like no other single era. So I made a point of buying literally every book in the used market (always hardcover; wanted a nice library). Wow, that is a LOT of books! Fortunately most of them are inexpensive on the after market, only a handful of them are keeps, and all of them have been good trade bait at the local book store -- or worthy donations to the city's library Friends program.

Brings us to this book. This is one of the about eight, out of as many as 10 books, that I consider keepers in the shelf on my personal library dedicated to 20th century music.
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