Contemporary music timeline

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    Antonin Dvorak

    A Czech composer who was the first European to explore American music and was one of the first to use folk music in his pieces.
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    Gustav Mahler

    He was one of the first composers to bridge the Austrian-German tradition with modernism. He was also a very talented conductor who led the Vienna State Opera.
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    Claude Debussy

    He was one of the first composers to use impressionist techniques in his works. He is also known for his wide usage of the whole tone scale which ensured that his music avoided cadences.
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    Richard Strauss

    He was a very successful composer of operas and tone poems who followed in the footsteps of Wagner and Liszt. He was also frequently in demand as a conductor. His works are classified as being in the later side of German Romanticism.
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    Jean Sibelius

    Widely considered to be the most successful of the Nordic composers, the love of his country is evident in his works. He mainly wrote tone poems and symphonies, and a was a capable violinist.
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    Erik Satie

    He was one of the first French Avant Garde composers whose works are characterised by unresolved chords and simple melodies
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    William Marion Cook

    He was influential in bringing the works of African Americans into the spotlight in the early 1920's. He also helped to bring out their influences.
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    Sergei Rachmaninov

    A very versatile pianist who helped develop the Russian modernist era of music and who was known for his piano and symphonic works. He later moved to the United States.
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    Arnold Schoenberg

    He was the father of the Second Viennese School who pioneered the 12-tone method of composition. His works were popular in academia since his composition were so controversial.
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    Charles Ives

    An insurance broker who composed on the side. His compositions are known for their polytonality, aleatoric techniques, and the wide usage of quarter-tones.
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    Maurice Ravel

    French composer whose works works are known for their colorful orchestration, distinctive tone, and unresolved dissonances.
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    Bela Bartok

    Hungarian composer who was strongly influenced by the folk music of his country. Also known for his varied rhythms, some aspects of atonality and complex rhythms.
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    Igor Stravinsky

    He was a Russian born composer who later moved to the US and was known for his ballets. His works are characterized by their vast dissonance, irregular rhythm, and unpredictability.
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    Percy Grainger

    Born in Australia but later given American citizenship, he was vital in helping to develop British classical music in including folk music.
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    Anton Webern

    He was Austrian who was one of the first proponents of serialism, who helped to develop the 12-tone method of composition by expanding it from what his mentor Schoenberg had achieved. His music is also known for its shorter length.
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    Edgard Varese

    He was a French composer who spent the majority of his career in the United States. He mainly focused on timbre and rhythm in his compositions
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    Alban Berg

    He was a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg and his works are known for combining romantic lyricism with the 12-tone method of composition. His works are also known for their many variations.
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    Nadia Boulanger

    She was a French conductor and a music teacher who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of her day including Philip Glass, Roy Harris, and Aaron Copland
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    Sergei Prokofiev

    Russian born composer who began composing as a movie composer but later turned into a composer who wrote things in the traditional style but often included lots of dissonance and complex rhythms.
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    Darius Milhaund

    He was one of the composers who made up the "Les six" group of composers. His music is known for its wide usage of jazz and Brazilian rhythms and for the usage of polytonality. He was also one of the first modernist composers.
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    Arthur Honegger

    He was a swiss composer who mainly lived in Paris as another member of the "Les six." His music is widely known for incorporating the sound of a locomotive, highlighting his love of trains
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    Paul Hindemith

    He was a German composer who advocated for the new objectivity style of music, which is basically a reaction against expressionism. He was also an accomplished conductor, violist, teacher, violinist whose quartet toured around Europe.
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    Carl Orff

    He was a German composer who was known for his pedagogic compositions and his works are often set in nationalistic tones that describe what Germany is really like.
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    Virgil Thomson

    He was a modernist American composer who was one of the first to develop the "American sound" in classical music. He was also an influential music critic.
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    Wolfgang Korngold

    He was an Austrian born composer who was known for his movie soundtracks.
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    George Gershwin

    He was an American composer and pianist who was known for composing his works with the goal of blending different types of music together (more specifically swing and jazz) with classical forms.
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    Roy Harris

    He was an American composer who wrote music based around American subjects. He was also a founder of the Music Academy of the west. He is most known for his symphonies.
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    Francis Poulenc

    He was a French composer who studied under Erik Satie, who was a member of "Les six." His compositions are known for being diatonic with tuneful melodies. He was also an accomplished pianist.
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    Duke Ellington

    He was an American Composer of jazz who was the leader of a jazz orchestra. He was also an accomplished pianist who played in cotton clubs.
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    Kurt Weill

    He was a German composer who was known for his "The Threepenny opera, a work that tried to display the struggles of the common man. He fully embraced the concept of Gebrauchsmusik.
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    Aaron Copland

    He was an American composer, teacher, conductor, whose works embody the "American sound." He would compose his works based on fragments of music as they came to him. His biggest influences were Chopin, Debussy, Verdi and the Russian composers, especially his mentor Nadia Boulanger
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    Ernst Krenek

    He was an Austro-American composer who studied under Anton Webern. His compositions explored atonality and was an accomplished author who wrote many books on the different styles of music. He later incorporated a lot of jazz rhythms in his compositions.
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    Stefan Wolpe

    He was a German immigrant who was an avid socialist. He mainly composed in the 12 tone method but also wrote using the Arabic scale.
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    Dimitri Shostakovich

    He was a Russian composer who lived most of his life in Stalin's Russia. He experimented with the 12 tone method of composition in his early life but later composed with basic tonality. His works also followed the classical forms, but also used elements of modernism.
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    Oliver Messiaen

    He was a French composer who's music is characterized by complex rhythms and a wide melodic and harmonic range. He employed Hindu and Greek methods of composition and was inspired by listening to song birds.
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    Elliott Carter

    He was an American composer who was known for combining different styles of music. He mainly combined elements from European modernism and American "ultra Modernism." His earlier works had explored neoclassicism, but incorporated more of his personal style by varying the rhythms and harmonies.
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    Samuel Barber

    He was an American composer who's works combined romanticism with classical forms. His works are often more melodic in their nature compared to his counterpoints, but moved to include dissonance and other elements of serialism later in his life.
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    Bernhard Herrmann

    He was a German composer of Hollywood music. He was known for writing the music accompanying the movies Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and Scorsese’s Taxi Driver
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    John Cage

    An American composer who wrote lots of experimental music to expand the limits of what music ought to be. He used aleatory music, silence, prepared piano, and random objects in many of his works.
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    Benjamin Britten

    He was an English composer and pianist who wrote many operas and song works. He was the most significant British composer since Edward Elgar
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    Milton Babbit

    He was an American composer, mathematician, and a music theorist who's works were instrumental in taking electronic music to a new level. He combined serialism with electronic and his later works included elements of atonality.
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    Charlie Parker

    He was a noted saxophonist who was a pioneer of the bebop movement of music, a type of jazz music characterized by fast tempos, advanced harmonies and virtuosic techniques on part of the instrumentalists.
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    Giannis Xenakis

    He was a Romanian-born Greek French avant-garde composer whose compositions are very unique. His scores are architecture-like in their planning and he experimented with “texture music”
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    Gyorgy Ligiti

    He was a Hungarian-Austrian composer who was best known for use of his music in film. He was highly respected, very regarded, innovative, and was an influential composer. His early works used lots of chromaticism but then shifted to include more polyrhythms
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    Pierre Boulez

    He was a French serialism composer who was also a very prolific conductor who led the NY Philharmonic among other orchestras. He was best known for his piano works
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    Karlheinz Stockhausen

    He was a German composer and music critic best known for his innovations with electronic music. His compositions are known as "field compositions" because of the vast length and structure.
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    Toru Takemitsu

    He was a Japanese composer who was known for his innovations with orchestral timbre and the manipulation of instrumentations. He also combined eastern classical music with western classical music
  • Philip Glass

    An American Composer best known for his minimalistic compositions. He would write only a few phrases and they would be varied by switching up the order or the direction that the notes would be played in. He is still alive.
  • Steve Reich

    An American composer who was one of the first to write minimalistic compositions. His compositions are known for their repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and his usage of canons.
  • John Corigliano

    He is an American composer who specializes in writing contemporary classical music. His works, numbering over 100 compositions have won him numerous prizes including a Pulitzer prize. He currently teaches at the Julliard School
  • John Adams

    He is an American composer who's works are known to be some of the best minimalistic compositions yet written. He wrote music spanning across many genres, although today he is known for his operas.