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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a thread, "Russian Composers and Music", TC member JosefinaHW mentioned a recent (2014) doctoral thesis by one Herbert Pauls. It is titled Two Centuries in One: Musical Romanticism and the Twentieth Century and is available here:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/books/Pauls_two_centuries_in_one.pdf

It is a long (400 pages plus), thorough, but well-written and easily absorbed treatise that both JosefinaHW and I can recommend as very valuable background information for any discussion of the topics of "modernism", "tonal" v. "atonal", "Romanticism", "Neo-Romanticism" etc. that have so troubled the Forum recently. Pauls' argument in a nutshell, which he supports with some very interesting lists and tables, is that musical Romanticism/Neo-Romanticism overwhelmingly dominates the Twentieth Century, for which thesis he offers many arguments and much data. A corollary of this is that it would be very difficult to realize this if one relied primarily (until recently) on the major music history texts, which offer a significantly different view of the past hundred years. Pauls' Table 2 on pp. 51-52 is particularly enlightening. Of course, the thesis has nothing to do with whether any particular person should or should not like or listen to any particular kind or piece of music. It really is all a matter of taste.

It would be useful to have the comments of those who commit themselves to reading the work, and there is certainly no time pressure to do so.
 

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In a thread, "Russian Composers and Music", TC member JosefinaHW mentioned a recent (2014) doctoral thesis by one Herbert Pauls. It is titled Two Centuries in One: Musical Romanticism and the Twentieth Century and is available here:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/books/Pauls_two_centuries_in_one.pdf

It would be useful to have the comments of those who commit themselves to reading the work, and there is certainly no time pressure to do so.
Thank you so much for sharing. I plan to read this tonight. I can't wait to read what he has to say about Howard Hanson and Hindemith.
 

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I'll look more closely later, but if this man is going to tell me to listen to Medtner, I'm out.
Do we know who Medtner is? I don't think we do. We might have to look him up on YouTube or Groves. Is this Nicolas Medtner who famously played the piano at the age of six? Hmmm, perhaps it is this guy?

Nicolai Medtner
Russ. composer and pianist. Studied Moscow Cons. (pf. with Safonov, comp. with Arensky and Taneyev). Prof. at Moscow Cons. 1902 - 03 , 1909 - 10 and 1914 - 21 . Left Russ. 1921 , living in Ger. and France and touring as virtuoso pianist. Amer. début 1924 with Philadelphia Orch. Wrote much pf. mus.; was influenced by Ger. romanticism. Wrote book, 1935 , opposing modern innovations and affirming faith in tonality. Wrote 3 pf. concs. ( 1914 - 18 , 1920 - 7 , 1940 - 3 ); 9 pf. sonatas ( 1896 - 1935 ); many genre pieces for pf., e.g. series called 34 Fairy‐Tales ( 1905 - 29 ); and many songs. Settled in Eng. 1935 . Patronized by Maharajah of Mysore.

I had never heard of him. But now, because we have posted about him, he will live forever in the annals of Talk Classical. Here is link to his Concerto No. 1.

 
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Do we know who Medtner is? I don't think we do.

I had never heard of him.
But some of us do know about him

some of us even enjoy his music

... and I am thankful to Nikolai Demidenko for playing a Medtner piece as an encore at a concert a few years back because that is how I was first introduced to his music. I remember clearly that Demidenko said that Medtner was a genius. I was intrigued because I didn't know his music, but from that one piece (one of the skazki) I then went on to explore his other music - some lovely piano solo pieces, enjoyable piano concertos and some wonderful songs. Of course, there are some (many, even) who don't care for his music, and I wouldn't say anyone should enjoy his music, but it is only fair to give it a listen before dismissing it
 

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But some of us do know about him

some of us even enjoy his music

... and I am thankful to Nikolai Demidenko for playing a Medtner piece as an encore at a concert a few years back because that is how I was first introduced to his music. I remember clearly that Demidenko said that Medtner was a genius. I was intrigued because I didn't know his music, but from that one piece (one of the skazki) I then went on to explore his other music - some lovely piano solo pieces, enjoyable piano concertos and some wonderful songs. Of course, there are some (many, even) who don't care for his music, and I wouldn't say anyone should enjoy his music, but it is only fair to give it a listen before dismissing it
I was listening to his Concerto No. 1 just now. Very emotional, very moving. It didn't quite rise to the "knock my socks off" level of the Beethoven P.C. #5 or the Rach. P.C.#2, but really quite attractive. I don't know why someone would hate Medtner. And I'm glad Isorythm mentioned him. I always love it when I find someone that is "new to me".
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
We have Becca, and then the persistence of JosefinaHW, to thank for this publication. Becca mentioned some links in a thread on Boulez, and JosefinaHW patiently worked through the links and came up with Herbert Pauls' dissertation. Blame them. :D
 

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We have Becca, and then the persistence of JosefinaHW, to thank for this publication. Becca mentioned some links in a thread on Boulez, and JosefinaHW patiently worked through the links and came up with Herbert Pauls' dissertation. Blame them. :D
:tiphat: to all involved in bringing this to our attention!

I'm making my way through it and find it fascinating reading. Of course as I read I can already hear TC's voices of disapproval - but to me it's a perspective that clarifies a lot of thoughts I've had on the subject.
 

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:tiphat: to all involved in bringing this to our attention!

I'm making my way through it and find it fascinating reading. Of course as I read I can already hear TC's voices of disapproval - but to me it's a perspective that clarifies a lot of thoughts I've had on the subject.
Could you give a longer precis of his argument than the OP?

edit: actually don't bother - ten pages in and I can already see what I'm in for. Unfortunately.
 

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In a thread, "Russian Composers and Music", TC member JosefinaHW mentioned a recent (2014) doctoral thesis by one Herbert Pauls. It is titled Two Centuries in One: Musical Romanticism and the Twentieth Century and is available here:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/books/Pauls_two_centuries_in_one.pdf
I have just downloaded this and read a few pages. Fascinating indeed! I will be reading the whole thing and hope not to forget this thread so I can add a comment or two.
 
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I've not yet committed to reading the entire thing. Based on Josefina's recommendation, I began the task, but did not find it easy to read as the author's style is rather too intrusively personal in places.

Simon, you can just cut to the Conclusion and you'll get the gist. Pauls is a defender of the place of romanticism in the 20th C; of the idea that music did not follow an inevitable course, nor was 'modernism' the inevitable destination; and of the idea that the historiography of music has been distorted most notably by those who advocate for both 'modernism' and the destiny theory.

I don't think you need to read a 400-page work to realise that there is not some pre-destined course for musical development or that modernism is (was) the destination; that the 'rejection' of Romanticism was a total contempt by all for all that had gone before the 20th C; that composers in the 20th C simultaneously maintained, countered, evolved the traditions inherited from the 19th C (and before). Nor to realise that a noisy advocacy for one type of music over another should be regarded with scepticism.
 

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I've not yet committed to reading the entire thing. Based on Josefina's recommendation, I began the task, but did not find it easy to read as the author's style is rather too intrusively personal in places.

Simon, you can just cut to the Conclusion and you'll get the gist. Pauls is a defender of the place of romanticism in the 20th C; of the idea that music did not follow an inevitable course, nor was 'modernism' the inevitable destination; and of the idea that the historiography of music has been distorted most notably by those who advocate for both 'modernism' and the destiny theory.

I don't think you need to read a 400-page work to realise that there is not some pre-destined course for musical development or that modernism is (was) the destination; that the 'rejection' of Romanticism was a total contempt by all for all that had gone before the 20th C; that composers in the 20th C simultaneously maintained, countered, evolved the traditions inherited from the 19th C (and before). Nor to realise that a noisy advocacy for one type of music over another should be regarded with scepticism.
Does he really reduce the great stylistic spectrum of the twentieth century classical to just the simple opposites of romantic and not-romantic?
 

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Well, it's not as if every composer besides the most "extreme" of modernist composers just continued on writing "Romantic Music". The developments of the 20th century were too influential to be ignored, even by self-appointed "Romanticists". For example, I would say many composers who are generally being labeled "Romantic" or Neo-Romantic have cultivated a language that has much more in common with Prokofiev or Hindemith than with Brahms or Wagner.

In fact, I can't really think of a single prominent composer writing today whose music sounds more influenced by "Romanticism" than by some early 20th century style. Even composers like Arvo Part, who is one of the "go to" composers for people looking for more "Romantic" 20th century music, doesn't sound any more "Romantic" to me than Webern.

I think ultimately, the flaw with the argument put forth in the OP is that "Romantic" is a term being used not as a way of objectively categorizing music based on a list of common characteristics, but as a blanket term for "this music sounds emotional to me", which is a label that could be used for any composer that speaks to someone deeply.

I'm listening to "Spiegal Im Spiegal" at the moment. Right off the bat it's very apparent to me that no Romantic composer would ever write music this harmonically static. Romantic music is just the opposite, full of swift and extreme harmonic shifts and instability. This piece to me seems to have more in common with "In a Landscape" by John Cage than with anything any composer from Schubert to Mahler ever wrote.
 
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Does he really reduce the great stylistic spectrum of the twentieth century classical to just the simple opposites of romantic and not-romantic?
I'm not sure of the connection between my piece you emboldened and your comment. It would of course be grossly unfair to Pauls' work to assert that it can be reduced as simplistically as I have outlined, but I was just offering an initial response based on a skim of the opening, the chapter titles and the conclusion. I don't doubt that for those with the stamina to read it in full, they'll find it winds its way through a whole heap of ideas. I know I haven't the stamina, and in any case, if I'm going to commit to reading books about music, I'll take Alex Ross' The Rest is Noise first, not least because it's much shorter!

But if you want to know if Romanticism feels hard done by the 20th C music historians and allegedly militant composers, you might find evidence in Pauls' work.
 
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