19th and 20th Century composers:
Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and Bela Bartok
Many composers existed during the 19th and 20th centuries who defied the principles of common practice tonality. In my opinion, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, and Bela Bartok are great examples of composers who often refused to follow the norms. Each of them created new compositional methods and structures and each had their own reasons for doing so. In the end, their innovation and originality is what has kept them current and still relevant even decades later. Debussy had a sense of musical style that allowed the listener to enjoy the moment and to not really wonder about what was coming next. Although Debussy was influenced by Wagner and Liszt, (which can be seen in his usage of chromatic and whole-tone chords), his music is free from the need to constantly resolve. Debussy also tends to keep a tonal focus. However, in his piece L’isle joyeuse he chose to defy the predictable tonal relationships between chords and gave each chord a degree of independence. Once again, Debussy’s way of doing this completely changed the tone and attitude of this piece and allowed us to enjoy each moment of the piece. Debussy was also known for his modern and symbolist tendencies. He liked to paint a picture for the listener which can be seen in his piece Nunges from Nocturnes where Debussy highlighted the English horn. Even though Debussy wanted to paint a picture for the listener, unlike other composers, he wanted the listener to figure out what that picture was on their own. Igor Stravinsky is remembered in part for his originality and his individualism. He developed multiple style traits which most likely emerged from his Russian traditions and these are what he became known for. Some of these trademarks were his rapid changes of meter, frequent ostinatos, dissonance, and many more. One of Stravinsky’s most famous ballets, Petrushka, utilizes many of these techniques within the opening...
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