Divided into three phases, Modern Music and After defines the distinct attitudes and ideals that characterized and shaped music over the last fifty years. The first phase, lasting until approximately 1960, was governed by hopes for a steady progressive change in the nature of music, in the routines of composing, and in music's place within society. Because of these hopes were widely shared, they encouraged an uncommon profusion of alliances. Eventually, differences among composers began to overwhelm the mutualities, and the single history of the late 1940s and 1950s was succeeded in the next two decades by a knotted convergence of styles and objectives. The third phase examines the manifestation of modern music's convoluted growth, emphasizing the extreme diversity of the comtemporary scene of the 1980s and 1990s.
From the beginning, the disruptions of the war and the struggles of the ensuing peace were reflected in the music of the time: in Pierre Boulez's radical re-forming of compositional technique, in John Cage's move into zen music, in Milton Babbitt's settling of the serial system, and in the work and theories of Dmitry Shostakovich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis, and Luciano Berio. The initiatives of these composers and their contemporaries opened prospects that have continued to unfold. This constant expansion of musical thinking since 1945 has left us with no single history of music. "We live" as Griffiths says, "among many simultaneous histories." In turn, Modern Music and After follows several different paths, showing how they converge and diverge. Having examined the main lines of musical change in the immediate post-war period, Griffiths goes on to investigate the diverse directions taken by over fifty composers since 1960, from computer music to opera, including Steve Reich, Jean Barraque, Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Gyorgy Kurtag, Bill Hopkins, Harrison Birtwistle and Gyorgy Ligeti. Publication and recording details are given for the works of all these composers and many others.
For its breadth and for its wealth of detail, Modern Music and After will appeal to anyone in search of a lively and comprehensive introduction to the music of our time....Continua