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Thursday, July 3, 2008

24 Recommended 20th Century Musical Works

We live in an era of lists. Here is mine...


If I had to condense the rich and amazing history of 20th century musical works down into a chronologically arranged concise list, I'd feel guilty about leaving out something important. But I put myself to the challenge anyway for the purposes of this blog.


I had think think long and hard about the important musical works of the 20th century and how they represent the ideas and change that took place over the course of a century.

Listening to these works would not be as daunting as it seems, since most of the works are relatively short. You may already know some of these. Virtually all of the pieces are well-known and can easily be found on the Web (e.g. Wikipedia and even YouTube). The works are listed in chronological order. I believe they are representative of important milestones in musical culture.





My List of 24 Recommended 20th Century Musical Works

Composer WorkYear Written

  1. Beethoven Grosse Fuge 1825-26
  2. Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht Op. 4 1899 (Transfigured Night)
  3. Gamelan Music (Java/Bali) NA (Heard at Paris Exposition / World's Fair in 1889)
  4. Kecak (Ramayna Monkey Chant) began in 1930s (Bali)
  5. Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune 1894
  6. Berg Piano Sonata Op. 1 1907-08
  7. Ives The Unanswered Question 1906-08
  8. Ives Three Places in New England 1911-14
  9. Stravinsky Le Sacre du printemps 1912-13 (Весна священная, Vesna svjaščennaja)
  10. Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire Op. 21 1912
  11. Milhaud La Création du Monde 1922-23 (The Creation of the World)
  12. Berg Lyric Suite 1925-26
  13. Gershwin An American in Paris 1928
  14. Copland Piano Variations 1930
  15. Berg Violin Concerto 1935
  16. Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta 1936
  17. Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time 1940
  18. Cage Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano 1946-48
  19. Babbitt Du for soprano and piano 1951
  20. Carter Variations for Orchestra 1953-54
  21. Stockhausen Gesang der Jünglinge 1955-56 (Song of the Youths) electronic music
  22. Stravinsky Requiem Canticles 1966
  23. Martino Notturno 1973
  24. Rakowski E-machines (etude #1) for piano 1988

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