2. Roots & Routes

Impressionism and Expressionism: where did these musical styles come from; did they suddenly appear from nowhere?

Looking at the two composers (Debussy and Schönberg) generally identified as their main representatives, it’s possible to trace the several musics that influenced their disparate voices.

For Debussy inspiration came from outside of the European mainstream. Hearing a Javanese gamelan at the 1889 Paris Exhibition was a revelation for the young composer:

… and then there was the harmonic freedom achieved by Russian composers in their pursuit of a truly national musical language:

Schönberg’s influences, on the other hand, are almost entirely German mainstream: Mozart’s chromaticism…

… which was passed on via Beethoven to the Romantics…

… to arrive, eventually, at Richard Wagner’s doorstep…

… and from thence to early Schönberg, who proceeded (almost monomaniacally) to develop the idea until almost all sense of key had disappeared, aka atonality.

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