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Music in the Late Twentieth Century

CHAPTER 10 Millennium's End

The Advent of Postliteracy: Partch, Monk, Anderson, Zorn; New Patterns of Patronage

CHAPTER 10 Millennium's End
Richard Taruskin

Richard Taruskin

There are so many composers these days, you cannot perform all the worthy music that is being written.1

William Schuman, a “Conversation” (1984)

If the amorphous “new spirit” of contemporary music has any coherence at all, it lies in its spontaneity, immediacy, its fondness for subconscious decision-making … associated in part with the demise of the composer-scribe.2

Nigel Osborne, Introduction (“editorial”) to Musical Thought at Ircam (1984)

Radios, records, and tapes allow the listener to enter and exit a composition at will. An overriding progression from beginning to end may or may not be in the music, but the listener is not captive to that completeness. We all spin the dial3

Jonathan Kramer, The Time of Music (1988)

I like to say that I'm really rootless. I think that the music that my generation is doing is really rootless in a lot of ways, because we listened to a lot of different kinds of music from an early age, … and as a result we don't really have a single home.4

John Zorn, in Conversation with Cole Gagne (1991)

[We're] simplifying the pitch landscape to allow you to pay attention to something else.5

Paul Lansky, in Conversation with Kyle Gann (1997)

I remember Cage writing about [the painter] Jasper Johns, and how if Johns sees anything on his canvas that remotely resembles anything someone else has done, he destroys it. It took me a while to realize that there's just the opposite way to be an artist: to be a kind of omnivorous personality. I think Stravinsky was one, and certainly Mahler was, and Bach as well—somebody who just reached out and grabbed everything, took it all in and through his musical technique and his spiritual vision turned it into something really great.6

John Adams, in Conversation with David Gates (1999)

To say that modernism “collapsed” in the last quarter of the twentieth century would be as one-sided and misleading (and perhaps as wishful) as the old claim that tonality had collapsed in the same century's first quarter. It is worth one last reminder that all “style periods” are plural, and that the dominance of trends is never as absolute or obvious as historical accounts inevitably make them seem. At century's end, just to pick the most conspicuous examples, Milton Babbitt (aged eighty-four) and Elliott Carter (aged ninety-two) were both still impressively productive as composers (Fig. 10-1).

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 10 Millennium's End." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2024. <https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-chapter-010.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 10 Millennium's End. In Oxford University Press, Music in the Late Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-chapter-010.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 10 Millennium's End." In Music in the Late Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 22 Apr. 2024, from https://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume5/actrade-9780195384857-chapter-010.xml
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