Modern Period in Music: Quick Reference

The 20th century is marked by a divergence into a variety of compositional trends and movements. The Modern period began with music in a late Romantic in style, while at the same time the impressionist movement was taking form in France, with Claude Debussy as a prominent leader.  American composers were developing their own nationalistic style by the 1920’s with works by George Gershwin and Aaron Copland.  In Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg set as his goal to finally and completely breakdown tonal harmony, favoring a music that did not give weight to any particular musical tone.  The twelve tone row, an ordered series of all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, effectively accomplished this goal.  Also of importance is the neoclassical style of Igor Stravinsky, and minimalist music of composer Philip Glass.

Further Reading

Arnold Schoenberg –

Twelve-Tone Technique –

Claude Debussy –

George Gershwin –

Aaron Copland –

Igor Stravinsky –

Philip Glass –



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