20th century

20th Century (1900-2000)

  • Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

    Scott Joplin (1868-1917)
    A Texan pianist who played ragtime music. He chose to include his music in his 1928 film, "The Circus". His music became really popular and Charlie Chaplin used some of his music. There is also an annual festival where his music is played.
  • Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

    Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
    Austrian expressionist composer. Started to write atonal in 1907. he also invented Serialism and the 12 tone method and Serialism.
  • Charles Ives (1874-1954

    Charles Ives (1874-1954
    American composer that was ahead of his time. Most of his works were not known until the end of his life. He would use quarter tones, and use multiple keys and meters at once. Won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. Used limited atonality. Wrote "The Unanswered Question" (1906 but not published until 1940).
  • Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

    Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
    Russian composer with a lot of styles over his lifetime. One of the main things that was consistent about his style was his harsh and rhythmically complex music. He was tonal, but with a lot of dissonance.
    Famous work:
    The Rite of Spring, 1913
  • Luigi Russolo (1885-1947)

    Luigi Russolo (1885-1947)
    Italian Futurist painter, composer, and builder of experimental instruments and wrote "The Art of Noises"(1913). Most of his "noises" are an assortment of random noises that occur in nature or are man made.
  • Florence Price (1887-1953)

    Florence Price (1887-1953)
    Florence was the first black female composer to be recognized and have an American orchestra perform her symphony. Symphony No.1 in E minor. Winner of the Rodman Wanamaker Musical Composition Contest Awarded September, 1932.
  • Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)

    Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
    Taught almost every single American composer in the 20th century except Gershwin. She taught composers to find their "voice".
  • Louis Durey (1888-1979)

    Louis Durey (1888-1979)
    Born in Paris, he instigated the first "Les Six" album. He wrote a lot of anti war pieces, mainly for WWII and the Vietnam war in the 1960's.
  • Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

    Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
    Russian Neo-classical composer that wrote for orchestra. He wrote seven symphonies, and many more pieces. One of his most notable is "Peter and the Wolf" (1936).
  • Darius Milhaud (1892-1963)

    Darius Milhaud (1892-1963)
    Born on the south coast of France. He would study with Debussy but immediately reject Impressionism. His large influences were from Brazil, and American Jazz. Became very close friends with Tailleferre.
  • Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)

    Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
    As the only female member of Les Six, she wrote piano pieces. She was a prodigy at piano and won multiple awards for piano and organ. She met Auric, Honegger, and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatory. She developed a close relationship with Satie in 1917, which gave her more notability.
  • Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)

    Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)
    French/Swiss composer that had a large amount of output on all mediums of music. He composed most of his works on commission, and appreciated the "architecture of music".
  • William Grant Still (1895-1978)

    William Grant Still (1895-1978)
    First Black American composer to have a symphony and opera performed by a major ensemble (1931, 1949). First Black American to conduct a major symphony orchestra (1936). Worked in New York City and arranged music for jazz bands. He then moved to Los Angeles and composed film scores.
  • George Gershwin (1898-1937)

    George Gershwin (1898-1937)
    American composer who wrote a lot of jazz infused pieces. Wrote for Broadway, film, and the concert hall. Wrote "An American in Paris" and "Rhapsody in Blue".
  • Georges Auric (1899-1983)

    Georges Auric (1899-1983)
    Born in southern France, he studied composition in Paris with Satie's teachers. His style was Neo-classical and often wrote film music. He was a music journalist and ran SACEM, which protected copyright to composers and their works.
  • Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

    Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
    Born to a wealthy rich family, Poulenc taught himself music along with being tutored. He traveled to meet Schoenberg with Milhaud, and rejected his style. The only gay person that was a part of "Les Six". His partner, Pierre Bernac, premiered many of Poulenc's pieces.
  • Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

    Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
    Edward Kennedy Ellington was a major leader in the swing era and in the big band era. "Composed" hundreds of pieces. Liked to take a lot of credit.
  • Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

    Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
    Mostly tonal, and composed a huge variety of works in all different genres. Taught at Harvard. He was a teacher, critic, conductor, composer, and sponsor of concerts. Studied with Nadia Boulanger for four years. Inspired by the songs of the Old West and by Mexican dance music.
  • Neo-Classical

    The goal of this style was to return to clarity. To return to what Mozart and Beethoven were most famous for. A return to form.
    composer example: Prokofiev
  • Expressionism

    German style lead by Schoenberg. This style focused on freeing music from tonality and chord progressions. All notes are equal, so there is no home pitch to return to.
  • Titanic Sinks

    Titanic Sinks
    The cruiser, Titanic, strikes and iceberg after being deemed "unsinkable". Many people are killed in this tragedy.
  • John Cage (1912-1992)

    John Cage (1912-1992)
    Innovated many modern compositional techniques. Made the definition of music "organized sound". Used a lot of Aleatory, or random factors so every performance would be different. Wrote "4'33""
  • Period: to

    World War I

    After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, the world plummets into the first world war.
  • Dadaism

    "Anti-art". wanted nonsense. Based in deliberate irrationality.
  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

    Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
    One of the leading female jazz singers. Known for her renditions of blues songs. Went to Paris to get famous, then came back with her popularity.
  • Jazz

    An American music style that arose in 1916. Its roots are West African music, blues, and ragtime. Scat singing started to be popular with performers like Louis Armstrong.
  • Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

    Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
    American conductor, composer, pianist, and teacher. Wrote for musical theatre. Wrote "West Side Story" in 1957.
  • Founding of the National Association of Negro Musicians

    Founding of the National Association of Negro Musicians
    Created by Robert Nathaniel Dett to give a home to all the African American musicians.
  • Les Six

    Les Six
    Henri Collet coins the term "Les Six" from the "Commedia" journal. Les Six becomes a group of composers that perform their own music. This group included Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, and Tailleferre. Two other "members" include Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau. 1920: "L'Album des Six"
  • 12-tone method (Serialism)

    12-tone method (Serialism)
    Developed by Schoenberg and taught to Berg and Webern. A system to use every note before repeating anything. This sequence can be inverted, retrograde, and inverted retrograde. This all comes from a matrix used to create a sequence.
  • The Harlem Renaissance (1923-1940)

    The Harlem Renaissance (1923-1940)
    The emergence of a kind of cultural capital of African American arts, including painting, literature, and music. This lasted until the Great Depression, but provided a movement that lasted well into the 1940's.
  • Swing Era

    Swing Era
    Improvised style of New Orleans jazz, led to the big band era.
  • John Williams (1932-present)

    John Williams (1932-present)
    An American composer and conductor. Has the most critically acclaimed film scores. Williams has won 25 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. He wrote the Star Wars soundtrack (1977).
  • Porgy and Bess

    Porgy and Bess
    Wrote by Gershwin as an American folk opera. Was the first opera with an all black cast.
  • Period: to

    World War II

    After Germany invades Poland in 1939, all the tension around the world explodes into WWII. This war is truly worldwide, with the US fighting on both sides of North America. The war is between the Allies and the Axis powers.
  • Big Band Era

    Big Band Era
    Large bands including sections of instruments. Still classifies as jazz and embodies the jazz style.
  • Bebop

    New "cool" jazz. Used fast tempos with distant solos.
  • Period: to

    Korean War

    Initiated by Kim Il-Sung, the China bordered North Korea tries to unify the whole Korean peninsula under communist control. The peninsula is split by the DMZ, and are now North and South Korea.
  • Synthesizer

    An electronic instrument made by engineers Harry Olson and Herbert Belar made of an analog synthesizer and 750 vacuum tubes. The instrument did not become popular until the 1980's.