Choose two composers from the following list:
Claude Debussy (1862-1918), a French composer who is credited as the first of the impressionist style. His music used harmonic ideas that did not fit into the major/minor system, and melodies that used different ideas as well. His out includes much piano and orchestra work, and has been greatly influential to modern classical and jazz composers who were to follow.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), a German composer whose music innovated in atonality, eventually establishing a “serial” technique, where all 12 tones are treated equally. While his music saw a limited audience in comparison with many composers of his day, his innovations have listed him as an influence.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), a Russian born composer whose music broke new ground in many ways, and has become recognized as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. With great stylistic diversity, he worked in many genres and forms but is best known for his ballets The Firebird, Pulcinella, and most significantly The Rite of Spring (which caused a riot when it premiered).
Aaron Copland (1900-1990), an American composer whose music demonstrated influence of the country’s ideals and spirit. His ballets Rodeo and Appalachian Spring have become essential parts of the orchestral repertoire.
George Gershwin (1898-1937), an American composer who brought elements of jazz into classical standard works. Working as a songwriter in Tin Pan Alley before coming into his own as a composer, he is best known for his Rhapsody in Blue for piano and orchestra and his opera Porgy and Bess.
Steve Reich (b. 1936), an American composer known for his repetitive figures and phasing patterns. he along with other composers who write in a similar style are known as “minimalists”.
Discuss the composers’ backgrounds and bodies of work. Choose a work from each to listen to and discuss. Which if any “ism” does this represent? What factors of the composers’ personalities or careers might have led them to compose these works? Which composers do you think might have influenced them? Compare the works and compositional styles of the composers. What do you notice that is similar and different when comparing their music?
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