Any topic (writer\’s choice)

Purpose: To consider the perspective of the audience for modernist music in which composers sweep aside old musical conventions and establish new ones
Format: Typed (word-processed) in a 12-point font Times New Roman or
similar, double spaced, 1 inch margins; heading including name, course name and number, date, and essay title. Submit in .rtf or Microsoft Word format ONLY.
Length: No less than 100 and no more than 250 words (Not including headings)

Content: Since the early 19th century and the example of Beethoven, audiences for classical music have tended to regard musical works in the classical tradition as artistic statements by the composer, and to consider the ways a work manipulates musical conventions as conveying some sort of meaning. With the advent of the 20th century and modernism, however, many composers broke with established musical conventions and devised essentially new ways for concert music to be created in an effort to allow music to progress. Audiences for these new works had to learn the new conventions behind the new works in order to understand them. Many audience members abandoned new classical music and remained content to enjoy the works of past masters like Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms

A. What is the responsibility of an audience member to try to understand a new and challenging musical work from a composer? How far can a composer go in stretching or even breaking with musical conventions and still expect an audience to follow her/him on the composers creative path? Should there be a limit on the creative vision the composer puts before an audience?

B. Recalling the selections by Debussy, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Copland, Revueltas, and Crumb discussed in class, choose one of these pieces that includes a passage that you believe goes too far, that really asks too much of an audience to follow and understand what the composer is doing. What are two features of this passage that you believe break with convention beyond what is reasonable for an audience to follow and understand?
Alternatively, choose and discuss a short passage from one of these pieces that breaks musical conventions as described above and describe why the way this piece breaks with conventions is good for the audience. What are two features of this passage that break with conventions and with audience expectations, and what about these passages can actually improve or enhance the audiences musical experience?

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