20th Century (1930 - 2000)

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In Music
  • The Synthesizer

    The RCA Mark II Synthesizer was invented in 1955 and was the first programmable electronic synthesizer and the flagship piece of equipment at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Designed by Herbert Belar and Harry Olson.
  • Assassination of JFK

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is assassinated on November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time in Dallas, Texas, while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21.
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    Schoenberg (1874 - 1951)

    Arnold Schoenberg was born in 1874. He is known for his formulation of the 12 tone system compositions, writing the first "atonal" piece. He had stated in his life that he had composed a song cycle that had "broken the bonds of bygone aesthetic". Popular pieces include "Variations for Orchestra" and " Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten".
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    Ives (1874 - 1954)

    Charles Ives is regarded as one of the most original American composers of the 20th century. Starting off as an insurance salesman, many if Ives works were not admired or performed until the end of his life and grew in popularity after his death. Many of his music's traits include polytonality and polymeters, and he is credited for creating the "Americana" style of composition. Most notable works include "The Unanswered Question" and "The Circus Band".
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    Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)

    Igor Stravinsky was born in 1882. He is regarded highly for his restored unwavering pulse that proved essential to advancing the modern ballet. He focuses on articulation and emphasis in his pieces, leading to a "clean" sound, and made a lasting contribution to serial music (12-tone music). Popular pieces include "Rake's Progress", "Movements", and "Variations (Aldous Huxley in Memoriam)".
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    Milhaud (1892 - 1974)

    Darius Milhaud was born in 1892. He is noted for his stage works, in which he wrote 15 operas, 13 ballets, and numerous pieces for cinema. Popular pieces include 'Suite Provencale' and 'Sumare'.
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    Gershwin (1898 - 1937)

    George Gershwin was an American composer who wrote classical, concert hall music influenced by jazz and pop music. He also wrote for Broadway and film, and was a virtuoso pianist. Notable works include "An American in Paris", "Rhapsody in Blue", and "Porgy and Bess".
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    Ellington (1899 - 1974)

    Duke Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than six decades. He composed hundreds of jazz tunes, including the ever-popular "Take The A Train"
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    Copland (1900 - 1990)

    Aaron Copland was an American composer, teacher, conductor and critic. He taught at Harvard, giving lectures and conducting festivals on the campus. He composed a variety of genres, including operas, ballets, film scores, piano works, symphonies, fanfares and overtures.
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    Armstrong (1901 - 1971)

    Louis Armstrong was born in 1901. Often called the most influential figure in the rise of American Jazz, Armstrong was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist, and actor, whose career began in the 1920s and spanned almost 5 decades. Popular pieces include "What a Wonderful World" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me".
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    Cage (1912 - 1992)

    John Cage was an American composer, music theorist, and philosopher. Cage innovated many modern compositional techniques and helped change the definition of "organized sound". He often used everyday objects as instruments and loved to use indeterminacy in his music. Popular works include "4'33"" and "Sonata V".
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    Les Six

    Consists of members Georges Auric (1899-1983), Louis Durey (1888-1979), Arthur Honegger (1892-1955), Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), and Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983). A group of french composers whom created many symphonies, musicals and ballets using their anti-romanticism style. Notable pieces include "L'Album des Six" and "les maries de la tour Eiffel".
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    Babbitt (1916 - 2011)

    Milton Babbit was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He had a very big interest in computer music and is known for his published article 'Who Cares if You Listen', which criticized his critics of not being 'good enough' to enjoy or understand his music.
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    Bernstein (1918 - 1990)

    Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor and TV personality most known for his impact in musical theater. Bernstein was a long term composer of the New York Philharmonic, and was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. He wrote notable musicals such as "West Side Story" and "Candide".
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    Crumb (1929 - present)

    George Crumb is an American compoer best known for his anti-war sentiments during the Vietnam War. He loved making use of non-Western idioms and created new spatial notations to accommodate his musical innovations. He has been a professor of music at University of Colorado, State University of NY at Buffalo, and the University of Pennsylvania.
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    Jazz is hailed as one of the greatest original American artforms. Jazz originated in African-American communities throughout the late 19th century, specifically in New Orleans, LA. Popular forms of jazz created during this time include Ragtime, which attends prominence of syncopation in various patterns, and Blues, in which the subject matter usually deals with an atmosphere of self-pity, loss or heartbreak, and can be performed arranged or improvised.
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    Impressionism, Expressionism, and Neo-Classicism

    Impressionism, Expressionism, and Neo-Classicism was a huge influence in 20th-century music. Not devoid of romantic elements, impressionism focused on the "vagueness" of a piece, while expressionism focused on the expression of the inner self, especially the subconscious. Neo-Classicism is the return of 18th-century ideals while retaining modern techniques of harmony, tonality, and melody.
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    Musical Theater

    Musical theater is a form of theatric performance including singing, dancing, acting and spoken dialogue. It was blossomed from the European operetta and French Operette. Musical theater gained huge popularity in the United States, especially in NYC where Broadway became the home of modern musical theater.
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    Rock 'n' Roll

    Blended the musical styles of jump blues and honky tonk with an edgy attitude to create a new genre. Some notable singers includes Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.
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    Music Through Media

    Music was able to reach an unimaginable scale after the inventions of televisions, radios, tape recorders, CDs, and many other tools. The creation of the internet also allowed for an unlimited accessibility from anywhere in the world to almost any music ever recorded. Television shows also could educate children and adults alike with self-teaching specials and live broadcasted performances of musicals, symphonies, and concerts.
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    Melody of 20th-century music focused heavily on chromatic melodies and dissonant intervals. Melodies could also have wide leads and were often short and fragmentary.
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    Harmony of the 20th-century focused on extreme dissonances and often had more discords than concords. The invention of tone clusters also heavily many popular genres, such as jazz and blues.
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    20th century music often featured vigorous and dynamic rhythms, with frequent use of syncopation. Unusual time signatures, such as 5/7 beats to a bar, started to become popular with composers, as was frequent changes of time signatures throughout pieces. Polyrhythms, which are few rhythms or time signatures at the same time, also became popular during this era.
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    World War II

    World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis