Music: Cackles & Groans

Perhaps the most harassed of U.S. musical institutions, the League of Composers celebrated its 20th birthday last week with a concert in Manhattan's Town Hall. No crowd clamored to buy standing room. But to many musicians it was an important event. For 20 years the league had been almost the only hand to uphold the frequently flickering torch of contemporary high-brow music.

At the close of World War I, Europe's great musical culture suddenly began to express itself in what to many sounded like groans and cackles. Only a few oldsters such as Jean...

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