Essay on Neoclassicism Vs. Modernism

Igor Stravinsky makes for a first-class example of differences and similarities between neoclassicism and modernism. Modernism is defined as “A term used in music to denote a multi-faceted but distinct and continuous tradition within 20th-century composition”1, while neoclassicism may be defined as “A movement of style in the works of certain 20th-century composers, who, particularly during the period between the two world wars, revived the balanced forms and clearly perceptible thematic processes of earlier styles to replace what were, to them, the increasingly exaggerated gestures and formlessness of late Romanticism”2 By not only comparing his works to others but within his own body of work the two movements can be better distinguished. Stravinsky composed in both styles throughout his musical career making his works not only a prime example but a map for the transition between periods/movements, thus giving distinctness to the movements. Stravinsky “cultivated a flexible and reciprocal association with his changing environment. While consistently producing work which transformed the sensibilities of those who heard it, he himself continuously allowed his own sensibilities to be fed, even transformed, by the music and music-making of others.”3 By comparing and contrasting the works of Stravinsky with not only his own works, but with his contemporary’s of the early 20th century, the division and resemblances between neoclassicism and modernism can be thoroughly observed.By examining a piece like The Rite Of Spring, modernist techniques and styles can be observed, Stravinsky created “an extra rhythmic tier, somewhat like the stresses superimposed on the regular patterns of The Rite.” 4 Stravinsky pushed the envelope of rhy…

…arities, yet defining differences between the styles.

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Works CitedBotstein, Leo. “Modernism.” Grove Music Online. Oxford UP. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Griffiths, Paul. “Stravinsky, Igor (Fyodorovich).” Grove Music Online. Oxford UP. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Haskell, Harry. The Early Music Revival: a History. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1996. Google Books. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Lee, Douglas A. Masterworks of 20th-century Music: the Modern Repertory of the Symphony Orchestra. New York: Routledge, 2002. Google Books. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Walsh, Stephen. “Stravinsky, Igor, §11: Posthumous Reputation and Legacy.” Grove Music Online. Oxford UP. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Walsh, Stephen. “Stravinsky, Igor, §4: Exile in Switzerland, 1914–20.” Grove Music Online. Oxford UP. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.Whitthall, Arnold. “Neo-Classicism.” Grove Music Online. Oxford UP. Web. 10 Nov. 2011


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