Music: Farewell, Romanticism

At the turn of the century, a 26-year-old song tinkerer in Vienna wrote a gigantic cantata that profoundly impressed an already influential German composer, Richard Strauss. To Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder heralded a new flowering of post-Wagnerian romanticism. But the work was, in fact, only a massive monument to a musical tradition about to decay. After it, Schoenberg was to begin the experiments with atonalism that eventually determined the direction of 20th century music. Once popular in Germany, Gurrelieder had its U.S. premiere under Leopold Stokowski in 1932, has rarely been performed since....

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