Tag Archives: Modernism

English modernism and rabid youth

In its 1 May 1925 issue The musical times included the following notice in “The amateurs’ exchange”, a regular column that printed free announcements by amateur musicians wishing to collaborate with others:

“A very young man wishes to meet another very young man who has violently ultra-modern tendencies in all four creative arts. M.J. Howe, 185 Marlbro’ Avenue, Hull”

The anonymous editor of the column (perhaps Harvey Grace, who was then the Editor of The musical times) appended a note:

“The above announcement is somewhat beyond the scope of this column. We feel, however, that if this extremely young man has a prototype anywhere, the two should meet, in order that they may go through their artistic scarlet fever together.”

This issue of The musical times, along with many others, is covered in our new RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text collection.

Above, the English modernist Roger Fry’s portrait of the English modernist poet Edith Sitwell. Below, Gustav Holst’s Mars, the bringer of war from The planets, an early English modernist work.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Humor

La revue musicale

Founded in 1920 by the musicologist Henry Prunières (1886–1942), La revue musicale aimed to support the profound changes taking place in music at that time while simultaneously inspiring a love for the music of the past.

Eschewing the intransigent nationalism that marked French music before World War I, the journal became a beacon for a segment of the European musical milieu that might well have disappeared in its wake; but after 20 years of methodically constructing a new music firmly grounded in its attachment to the classicism of the Enlightenment, the events of World War II permanently extinguished its flame.

This according to “La revue musicale (1920–40) and the founding of a modern music” by Michel Duchesneau, an essay included in our recently published Music’s intellectual history. Two other articles in the volume explore further aspects of this journal: “Towards a topology of aesthetic discussion contained in La revue musicale of the 1920s” by Danick Trottier and “Dance in Henry Prunières’s La revue musicale (1920–40): Between the early and the modern” by Marie-Noëlle Lavoie.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Dance, Reception

Macunaíma and brasilidade

In Macunaíma, o herói sem nenhum caráter (Macunaíma, the hero without character) by the Brazilian musicologist, ethnomusicologist, poet, and cultural activist Mário de Andrade (1893–1945), the title character leaves his home deep in the jungle for a mystical quest to São Paulo to retrieve the muiraquitã, an amulet said to embody all of the history and traditions of his culture. Macunaíma succeeds in his mission, but in the process he undergoes a series of dramatic transformations; finally, he is changed into a constellation. He leaves for the firmament with a cryptic remark: He was not brought into the world to be a stone.

The story can be read as a metaphor for the cultural developments that Andrade helped to shape: He advocated bringing the jungle to the city to create the modernist aesthetic of brasilidade that informed the growth of the Brazilian creative arts and the parallel development of musicology and ethnomusicology there. Like Macunaíma, Brazilian modernism did not come into the world to be a stone, with all its implications of rigidity, contour, and well-defined boundaries—rather, brasilidade relishes improvisation, exploration, and fluid boundaries that can be perpetually transformed.

This according to “Macunaíma out of the woods: The intersection of musicology and ethnomusicology in Brazil” by James Melo, an essay included in our recently published Music’s intellectual history.

Related article: Tropicália and Bahia

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Ethnomusicology, Literature, Musicologists