#johncage

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 4: Olivier Messiaen

Welcome back to Sonosphere’s Birth of Modern Music series featuring modern European, classical composers that inspired the experimental, avant garde art and music scenes of the 50s, 60s and resonate in music composition today.

In the first episode of the series we highlighted Arnold Schoenberg whose atonal works ushered in a  new school  of composers. Then we moved to Erik Satie whose Vexations and other “sonic experiments” influenced his peers and John Cage who discovered the piece years later.  After that we covered Edgard Varese, a peculiar composer who sculpted sounds in a way never accomplished previously. Today we will delve into the life and works of Olivier Messiaen.

Messiaen escaped the world of composition’s shift to serialism through religion, nature, and birdsong, but he had a profound influence on the evolution of electronic music composition through composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, and Xenakis. 

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Thanks for listening!

Songs in this month’s episode:

  1. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles I: Le Desert
  2. Des Canyons Aux Etoiles II: Les Orioles
  3. Preludes: La Colombe (The Dove)
  4. Quartet for the End of Time
  5. Turangalila – Symphonie
  6. Mode de valeurs et d’intensites
  7. Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite

 

photo: Catalogue d’Oiseaux: styriarte.com

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The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 3: Edgard Varese

Varese searched for the modern sound, the sound that would define his generation. Like Schoenberg before him, Varese’s early atonal period broke down language and form into a stream of sensations – “his screaming chords seemed to have no emotion tied to them, no history or future” – just very present in the now.

Join us on the journey through the life and mind of French American composer Edgard Varese.

Edgard Varese “An Ear Opening Experience”

The next episode of Sonosphere will feature French composer Edgard Varese, often described as the “Father of Electronic Music.” A Sunday Times review called Varese “The great emancipator of noise, he transformed the clamor of big city life into clear musical images.”

John Cage said of Varese, he “fathered forth noise,” which “makes him more relative to the present musical necessity than even the Viennese masters.” Check out the playlist below and whet your appetite for this “ultra-modern” composer.

 

The Birth of Modern Music Series Part 2: Erik Satie

The ultimate “underground” modernist artist in Paris, Satie didn’t get a lot of credit when he was alive for his work. He was largely forgotten until John Cage found his Vexations composition fifty years after his death.

His music “did not resolve as it should according to tonal laws” says our guest Dr. Caroline Potter. She talks with us about how Satie broke from Parisian tradition and led an avant-garde scene which influenced ambient and minimalist artists for years to come.

Join us as we traverse the eccentric life and work of Erik Satie.

Preview to Birth of Modern Music Series

This episode is an introduction to our series on the Birth of Modern Music. It will highlight radical dissonance in Western classical compositions. We will individually describe the work and influence of Arnold Schoenberg, Erik Satie, Edgard Varese, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage. They were powerhouses in the classical composition revolution at the turn of the 20th century and their influence permeated into mid-century beatnik, free improv and psychedelic culture.

Look for the first episode in this series next week. Until then, we have prepared for you a playlist highlighting the work of Arnold Schoenberg, the first modernist we’ll explore in our next episode. Check it out at sonospherepodcast.com and click on Press Play. Enjoy!

Featured track:
Pierre Boulez – Le Marteau sans Maitre VI Bourreaux de Solitude