American Music’s “Elder Statespeople” Comment on the Future of Music George Perle



George Perle
Photo by Johanna I. Sturm. Courtesy of George Perle

I have been offered 100 words to reply to the question, “What is the future of music?” but I need only three: “I don’t know.” I can, however, answer another, related question: “What sort of future would you like for music?” Every new piece I write attempts to answer this question. My starting point is the revolutionary challenge to traditional tonality inherent in emblematic works composed at the beginning (1908-13) of the last century by Skryabin, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Stravinsky, and Bartók. In spite of the disparity in their idioms and compositional methods, what unites these composers is more important than what separates them, and looks forward toward an authentic contemporary tonal language as the vehicle of contemporary musical expression.