Post 1900s era (1930-2000)

  • John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932)

    promoted the American wind-band tradition here and in Europe; an outgrowth of British military bands
  • Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

    french composer and pianist; inventor of musical impressionism; influential modern composers
  • Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

    composer of tone poems and some of the first modern operas; accomplished conductor
  • Scott Joplin (1867-1917)

    American and popularized ragtime in the US
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

    became the leader in English music; collector and editor of folksongs and hymns
  • Sergei Rachmaniov (1873-1943)

    not interested in nationalism; master of melody and virutoso pianist
  • Charles Ives (1874-1963)

    the most innovative, original, and creative of all the 20th century composers; used polytonality, polyrhythms, and polymeters
  • Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

    father of 12-tone music; teacher of Webern and Berg; went atonal
  • Maurice Ravel (1876-1937)

    french composer; extremely versatile; innovator in pianistic style; expert orchestrator
  • Bela Bartok (1881-1945)

    hungarian composer and pianist; important ethnomusicologist; known for his rhythmic music; he incorporated his own native folk music into his compositions
  • Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

    one of the most versatile and interesting composers of the 20th century; rhythmic style; harmonically interesting
  • Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

    born in Canada; studied with Natalie Boulanger at Harvard and Columbia; helped found the National Association of Negro Musicians (1919)
  • Anton von Webern (1883-1945)

    student of Schoenberg; known for his musical brevity and clarity of texture; uses pointillism; wrote no operas
  • Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)

    important teacher of composers in the 20th century; conductor and composer;
  • Florence Price (1887-1953)

    became the first black female composer to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra: Symphomy No. 1 in E minor
  • Louis Durey (1888-1979)

    Born in Paris into a non-musical family. Instigated the first Les Six album. Durey wrote songs for the French Resistance during WWII and later Vietnamese themes in the 1960s as a protest to the war.
  • Period: to


    use of pentatonic, whole tone, and other exotic scales
    unresolved dissonances
    parallel chords
    free rhythm
  • Period: to


    uses very large ensembles and goes over the top
  • Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

    Russian composer and pianist; important as a Russian voice in Western culture
  • Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)

    french composer of operas, ballets, film and television scores, and orchestral and piano works
  • Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)

    Born to Swiss parents - considered himself to be Swiss. He was a huge compositional output to all mediums and composed most of his works on commission.
  • Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

    He was born on the southern coast of France. Milhaud studied with Debussy and immediately rejected Impressionism. He eventually became close friends with Tailleferre and gave her needed encouragement to continue composing. American jazz at this time influenced his work.
  • William Grant Still (1895-1978)

    American composer; became the first African-American composer to have his symphony performed by a leading orchestra; also first black American to conduct a major orchestra; first black American to write for radio, TV, and films
  • Henry Cowell (1897-1965)

    American composer, teacher, and writer; innovator of indeterminacy; his experimental enthusiasm helped to create modern music
  • George Gershwin (1898-1937)

    influential American composer, pianist, and conductor who worked in Hollywood; he successfully fused jazz and pop music
  • Georges Auric (1899-1983)

    He was born in southern France and studied composition in Paris with Satie's teachers. He was considered a neo-classicist and wrote for film music.
  • Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

    self-taught, but had musical tutors. With Milhaud, they traveled to met Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, but both rejected their style.
  • Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

    American jazz composer; created a unique style of big-band jazz; one of the first African-American composers to cross races with his music
  • Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

    most popular American composer of the 20th century; teacher, conductor, author; his music still has a special appeal to the American public
  • Period: to


    focused on completely freeing music from tonality
    12-tone method introduced by Arnold Schoenberg
  • John Cage (1912-1992)

    American composer and philosopher; most innovative composer of the 20th century; changed the definition of music; used indeterminacy; he was the center of avant-garde music in the mid-20th century
  • Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

    American conductor, composer, teacher, author, and pianist; most influential American musician of the 20th century; brought classical music to the public via various media
  • Les Six

    Members consist of Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and Germaine Tailleferre. Erik Satie created a group called Les Nouveaux Jeunes circa 1913-14. Henri Collet coined the term Les Six in the French journal Commedia in 1920.
  • Serialism

    derives of the 12-tone method used by Schoenberg
  • Harlem Renaissance

    There emerged a kind of cultural capital of African American arts, including literature, painting, and music
  • John Williams (1932-)

    American composer and conductor; considered one of the best film score composers in America