New Music Fight Club

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New Music Fight Club

It was composer pitted against composer: uptown vs. downtown, tonal vs. atonal, left brain vs right brain, and these musicians were NOT pulling any punches. Composers were antagonizing each other, questioning each other's validity, and bad-mouthing one another; it was like the second half of the 20th century was when Western Music went through middle school, and it was brutal!

“If you weren't being a constructivist composer, if the music wasn't indeed about its own structure, and its own structure wasn't complicated, then you were a pariah, you were rejected. You didn’t get tenure. You didn’t get a job.” That’s Robert Sirota - Nadia’s Dad - one of many composers who came of age in the midst of this feud and struggled - for years - to find a voice.

On this episode of Meet the Composer, we unravel one of the most contentious periods in classical music’s history. How did this fight begin? How did it play out? Who were the contenders?  We hear from composers on both sides of this battle, and discover how, on all ends of the aesthetic spectrum, we can find value in differences.


Heard a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:00—The Yorks: Love Without Reason, written by Barry Flicker
2:14—Robert Sirota: Pange Lingua Sonata | Buy 
3:30—Robert Sirota: Pange Lingua SonataBuy 
5:23—Philip Glass: Music in Twelve Parts | Listen 
6:31—Ruth Crawford Seeger: Study in Mixed Accents | Listen 
7:08—David Lang: orpheus over and under | Listen 
8:53—Richard Wagner: Overture from Tristan und Isolde | Listen 
9:36—Julia Ward Howe: Battle Hymn of the Republic | Watch 
11:27—Arnold Schoenberg: Klavierstüke, Op. 33 | Listen
12:04—Pierre Boulez: Piano Sonata No. 2 | Listen  
13:05—Pierre Boulez: Sur IncisesListen 
13:47—Lewis Nielsen: Oerknal! "...the crisis of conscience..." | Listen 
14:50—Charles Wuorinen: Two Part Symphony | Listen 
15:57—David Lang: the so-called laws of nature: part III | Listen 
17:59—Jr. Walker and the All-Stars: Shotgun | Listen 
18:47—Bob Dylan: Maggie's Farm | Buy 
19:09—Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 2 | Listen 
19:45—Steve Reich: Violin Phase | Listen 
21:05—Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 2Listen 
21:16—Charles Wuorinen: Second Piano Quintet | Listen 
22:10—John Adams: Phrygian Gates | Listen 
23:31—John Adams: Death of Klinghoffer | Listen 
24:08—David Lang: child, II. sweet air | Listen 
25:21—David Lang: almost all the time | Listen 
28:53—Brian Ferneyhough: La chute d'Icare | Listen 
30:58—Brian Ferneyhough: no time (at all) | Listen 
32:09—Brian Ferneyhough: Superscriptio | Listen 
33:36—J.S. Bach: Invention No. 15 in B minor | Listen 
34:26—J.S. Bach: Mass in B minor, "Crucifixus" | Listen 
38:49—David Lang: breathless | Listen