A History of Western Choral Music, Volume 2

Chester L. Alwes

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


This volume picks up the survey of genres of choral music in the nineteenth century that concluded volume 1, surveying oratorio, part song, dramatic music (opera chorus and concert works based on texts by Goethe ), and the phenomenon of the choral symphony. The remaining chapters all treat music in the twentieth century (including observations on some current trends). They start with an assessment of French choral music from Debussy to Messiaen and proceed using categories familiar to such historical surveys: serialism (Schoenberg, Webern, Dallapiccola, Stravinsky, Krenek); nationalism, folk song, and identity (Vaughan Williams and Holst; Kodály, Bartók, and Tormis); neoclassicism (Stravinsky, Hindemith, Orff, and the German church music revival of the early twentieth century); the avant-garde aesthetic (Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, Ligeti, Schnittke) and the conservative movement that reacted against it; and European centrism (the Generazione dell’Ottanta; Bloch and Martin; Janáček, Martinů, and Orbán; Szymanowski and the choral music of Scandinavia and the Baltic States). Given the author’s background and experience, chapters follow that survey the contributions from America (Ives, Copland, Thompson, Bernstein, spirituals, and modern Americanism) and the British Isles (Delius, Howells, Britten, Walton and Tippett, Leighton, Maxwell Davies, Tavener, and MacMillan). The volume concludes with an examination of new, simpler approaches that seek a middle ground between the avant-garde and commercialism (Lutosławski, Penderecki, Górecki, Pärt, Reich, and Adams).
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199376995
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016


  • choral music
  • folk song
  • spirituals
  • neoclassicism
  • serialism
  • part song
  • oratorio
  • minimalism
  • avant-garde
  • romantic music


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