Crash Course: American Serialism
As World War II decisively elevated America to superpower status, the cutting edge of European music—atonality—crossed the Atlantic, where it was transformed into a quintessentially American combination of ingenuity, technology, and brash confidence. We’ll delve into American serialism, exploring the work of a host of composers—Babbitt, Wuorinen, Powell, and more—who set out, by the numbers, to make music modern.
About Your Host:
Matthew Guerrieri is a composer, pianist, and writer whose music has been called “gorgeous” by the New York Times, and who is often heard in recital in the Boston area. He writes regularly for the Boston Globe, and his articles have also appeared in NewMusicBox and Slate magazines. He is responsible for the popular classical music weblog Soho the Dog.
A former fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center, he also holds degrees from DePaul and Boston Universities.
Milton Babbitt: Vision And Prayer (CRI 521)
George Rochberg: String Quartet No. 2 (New World Records Nwcr769)
Stefan Wolpe: Symphony (CRI 676)
Charles Wuorinen: Chamber Concerto For Flute And Ten Players (CRI Cd744)
Babbitt, Milton. Words About Music (ed. Stephen Dembski and Joseph N. Straus). University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.
—. The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt (ed. Stephen Dembski, Andrew Mead, Stephen Peles, and Joseph N. Straus). Princeton University Press, 2003.
Halberstam, David. The Fifties. Ballantine Books, 1994.
Perle, George. Serial Composition and Atonality. Sixth edition, revised. University of California Press, 1991.
Reel, James. “Dirty Dozens: A HyperHistory of Serialism.” NewMusicBox, December 1, 2001.
Rhodes, Richard. Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. Simon and Schuster, 1996.
Rochberg, George. The Aesthetics of Survival: A Composer’s View of Twentieth-Century Music. Revised and expanded edition. University of Michigan Press, 2003.
Wuorinen, Charles. Simple Composition. C.F. Peters, 1994.