Odyssey: Modern Composers of the 20th Century—The Less Played the Better?

Is more always better? Do we need the greatest and most complex amount of harmony, rhythm, and melody to achieve satisfaction in music? Certainly after the Second World War we were blessed with music, which presented us with maximalism. Composers like Boulez, Varese, and Stockhausen pummeled us with huge orchestras, great complexities, and endless dissonance. In the 1960s composers began to wonder if music could go in another direction, toward simplicity. Like in so many things, the question that arose was, Could more be achieved with less? Composers like Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams were writing music that had simple harmonies, textures, and melodies. This new music allowed the listener to meditate and consider what they were experiencing rather than presenting them with endless amounts of indecipherable information. Like all 20th-century musical -isms, minimalism has its drawbacks—endless repetition for one—but in the hands of masters like Arvo Part, Reich, Glass, and Adams it can be a maximal experience.

912.558.01 Homewood campus Tuesdays, Nov. 7 to 28, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cost: $136

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