Music: In Santa Fe, a Worthy Failure

Rochberg's Confidence Man challengingly evokes an older idiom

For more than a decade, Composer George Rochberg, 64, has been a point man in one of the bitterest musical skirmishes of the postwar era. With the appearance in 1972 of his Third String Quartet, a work at times frankly reminiscent of Beethoven and Mahler, Rochberg broke irrevocably from the dominant twelve-tone school of composition to write music that was more tuneful, more accessible and, in his opinion, more expressive. His apostasy puzzled and angered many of his colleagues, who felt that the tonal system used...

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