The Rambler :: blog

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Music since 1960 

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Sometime classical music blogger Alan Little ponders whether any good music has been written in the last 40 years. Which as regular readers might imagine is something like a red rag to a bull here at Rambler Towers. And, recently, I've been aware that I've not talked about music I know and love dearly that much recently.

So, to answer Alan's question - and maybe by way of a listening list for anyone else pondering the same, or just wondering what gets me up in the morning - I thought I'd create a list of works, one for each year 1960-2000. However, I struggled hard to find works for 1978, 1979, 1990 and 1991 that were both great, and had any sort of personal significance. I should add, also, that this is nowhere near a complete list, or even necessarily a list of the greatest pieces of the last 40 years or so. It's simply some of the ones I treasure most, and that I think everyone who truly loves music should listen to at least once. And some pieces - Górecki's 3rd Symphony for example - seemed so obvious as to need no introduction from me, so I found more interesting substitutions.

Each one of these pieces have stunned, amazed or enlightened me, or just given me great pleasure from the moment I first heard them. Hey, maybe one day I'll even tell you those stories ...

Update (15/04/04): Click the links to read my post for that work

The list

1960 - Krzysztof Penderecki: Threnody - To the Victims of Hiroshima
1961 - György Ligeti: Atmosphères
1962 - Olivier Messiaen: Sept haïkï
1963 - Herbert Howells: Take him, earth, for cherishing
1964 - Terry Riley: In C
1965 - Steve Reich: It's Gonna Rain
1966 - Harry Partch: And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma
1967 - Karlheinz Stockhausen: Hymnen
1968 - Witold Lutoslawski: Livre pour orchestre
1969 - Luciano Berio: Sinfonia
1970 - Brian Ferneyhough: Cassandra's Dream Song
1971 - Morton Feldman: Rothko Chapel
1972 - Henryk Górecki: Symphony no.2
1973 - Steve Reich: Six Pianos
1974 - Wojciech Kilar: Krzesany
1975 - Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never be Defeated
1976 - John Cage: Apartment House 1776
1977 - Arvo Pärt: Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten
1980 - György Kurtág: Messages of the Late R.V. Troussova
1981 - Tadeusz Baird: Voices from Afar
1982 - Hans Otte: Das Buch der Klange
1983 - John Adams: Shaker Loops
1984 - Pierre Boulez: Répons
1985 - Brian Ferneyhough: Etudes transcendentales
1986 - Harrison Birtwistle: Earth Dances
1987 - John Zorn: Spillane
1988 - Kaija Saariaho: Grammaire des rêves
1989 - György Kurtág: Ligatura: Message to Frances-Marie (The Answered Unanswered Question)
1992 - Meredith Monk: Atlas
1993 - John Tavener: The Apocalypse
1994 - Michael Finnissy: Folklore II
1995 - Péter Eötvös: Atlantis
1996 - Arvo Pärt: Litany
1997 - Alwynne Pritchard: Craw
1998 - Gérard Grisey: Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil
1999 - Rebecca Saunders: cinnabar
2000 - Ian Wilson: ... wander, darkling

(All dates are of completion)

... And if you can't find something you like in that lot (masterpieces all, but granted, not all to everyone's taste), then it's a fair bet you probably aren't going to enjoy contemporary music at all. On the other hand, if you want recording recommendations for any of these, drop me a line and I'll see what I can do.

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