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Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
The Norton Introduction to Music History
6.4 × 9.5 in / 576 pages
Territory Rights: Worldwide
Twentieth Century Music is the third volume to appear in this series.
Morgan divides his text into three chronological sections. Beginning with such giants as Mahler, Richard Strauss and Debussy, he discusses national movements, as represented by Charles Ives and Ralph Vaughan Williams; philosophical movements as various as the Schoenberg/Berg/Webern alliance or "les six"; and the giants who were "sui generis", such as Bartok and Stravinsky. The "isms" such as serialism, minimalism, indeterminism, the new romanticism and pluralism, are clearly delineated and the electronic boom of the last decades is defined.
Morgan's book is the best that I have found for an overview of the entire 20th century in "classical" music. He divides his analysis into 3 logical sections:
Part 1. Beyond Tonality: From 1900 to World War I
Part 2. Reconstruction and New Systems: Between the Wars
Part 3. Innovation and Fragmentation: From WWII to the Present
This allows for some nuance that a simple list of composers often misses. For instance, Schoenberg's "atonal revolution" is covered in Part 1, along with the "new tonalities" of Stravinsky and Bartok. Part 2 covers the origin of the "twelve-tone system," but makes clear that it did not become influential until years later with the "serial revolution" in France, led by Messiaen and Boulez, in Part 3.
As others have noted, Morgan is not as strong on the more recent period, partly because the book was published in 1991 and thus misses such phenomena as Schnittke's surge of popularity, especially in Russia and Europe, after the collapse of the Soviet regime.