This month we’re taking a look at the Roaring Twenties, or what might also be called the Exploring Twenties. Romanticism had years before splintered off into different directions such as Impressionism and Modernism, while what we call Neoclassicism was starting to find inspiration by bringing the further past back into the present. Meanwhile, Arnold Schoenberg and his followers were upending the very foundations of tonality, and the bold new world of jazz was beginning to invade the symphony hall. It was an exciting time, one bursting with energy and possibility for both music and culture as a whole. As you enjoy this playlist, let it transport you to the tension and the release of the time in which it was created.
To hear the playlist, access NML as usual, go to the Playlists section, and select the Playlist of the Month folder under the Naxos Music Library Playlists tab. If you are on your institution's premises, you may also be able to access it if you CLICK HERE.
2. Kurt Atterberg – Symphony No. 6 in C Major, “Dollar Symphony”: III. Vivace – In 1928, Atterberg entered his dazzling Sixth Symphony into a worldwide composition competition and walked away with first prize and the hefty sum of $10,000 (around $140,000 today), earning it the nickname “Dollar Symphony”. This work is simply pure, unabashed fun.
3. George Gershwin – Piano Concerto in F Major: III. Allegro con brio – The day after Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue premiered, he received a commission for a piano concerto, one that would follow that traditional form whilst integrating his trademark jazz flair. Not having formal composition training, he taught himself the concerto form and produced this infectious work.
4. Béla Bartók – String Quartet No. 4: V. Allegro molto – While not binding himself to 12-tone or other forms of serialism, Bartók did venture well out of the traditional major and minor tonalities, choosing to apply equal value to every note. This final movement of his String Quartet No. 4 makes use of whole tone scales and inversion and retrograde forms of the melody.
7. Arnold Schoenberg – Variations for Orchestra: Finale – Schoenberg is most readily known as the developer of the 12-tone compositional technique, in which the composer uses a predetermined pattern that provides all 12 tones of the chromatic scale with equal emphasis. Variations for Orchestra was his first such work composed for a large ensemble.
8. Alban Berg – Lyric Suite: V. Presto delirando – This 12-tone work for string quartet features a secret dedication to a mistress; a melodic sequence of A-B-H-F (another way of saying A-B♭-B♮-F) spells out their initials side by side, and Berg borrows a bit of melody from Zemlinsky, the official dedicatee of the piece, that in the original work is paired with the lyrics “You are mine own.”
Each month, Naxos Music Library presents a themed playlist for our subscribers to enjoy. We know that a database of nearly 1.5 million tracks can be a bit daunting, so we'd like to highlight some of the amazing music that is available to you. Let it kickstart discovery!