Saturday, December 6, 2008

World Music

Not the whole world. The "Western World"

Jewish composers were driven from place to place in the 20th Century. Russians fleeing Soviet persecution went to Paris, London, Israel and America. Composers from Middle Europe fled from Hitler. Some settled in New York City, some in Los Angeles and some in Israel. So they don't fit national categories. And their music is not taken as seriously as it should be. Joseph Achron, Samuel Feinberg, Stefan Wolpe, and Ernst Toch are a few examples of this.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Challenge of the 20th Century

Creative musicians could not all be comfortable writing music with rhythm and harmonies Brahms would have been comfortable with and neither are many concert goers. The majority of concert goers even in the 21st Century are comfortable only with what Brahms was comfortable with.

The challenge is to go beyond 19th Century tonality and make music that moves ordinary people. Interestingly rock in the late 20th Century can do both. Meanwhile there is great modern jazz and modern classical music which only appeals to a select few. It takes much listening to make people comfortable with the new idioms this music employs.

Twentieth Century: The First Fifty Years

Much that was happening in classical music in this period of time gets little notice. The result is that people miss significant developments. Jazz led in some cases and followed in others. Jewish composers were at the heart of this in Europe, America, and Israel. Unfortunately Hitler killed many composers of great worth and the Soviet Union drove many out or suppressed their creativity. This blog tells their stories and talks about their music. This fusion of jazz and classical music, with harmonic and rhythmic inventions that could not be thought of in the 19th Century, is the story of the 20th Century.

19th Century

Jewish composers in the 19th Century for the most part fit in. Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Halevy, Anton Rubinstein, Saint-Saens, and Gernsheim wrote delightful music but it is a stretch to try to view it as having elements which are distinctively Jewish. However these composers created the basis for what was to come in the 20th Century. Some of them were very important in the development of the musical traditions of the countries they lived in. For example Rubinstein taught Tchaikowsky and founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory.