Strauss & Beyond
Two apparent extremes
In the & Beyond Series, we start off with one composer and look into the influences and relationships with composers from later periods. The concert presents an effervescent programme of intense playing, compiled by and featuring our violinist Joseph Puglia.
Johann Strauss and Asko|Schönberg are seldom mentioned in the same breath. This surprising choice lies at the heart of our programme, which explores the boundaries between ‘serious’ music and ‘light’ music, creating a bridge between these two apparent extremes.
Schönberg, certainly not renowned as a composer of readily accessible music, clearly saw the value of ‘light’ music. He – and many of his students – transcribed orchestral works by Strauss for chamber groups. In Webern’s Four Pieces, we can clearly hear the influence of the Viennese waltz.
Milton Babbitt is known for being one of the most ‘serious’ composers of the 20th century. He wrote serial music, often basing this on scientific principles, but his roots were more in jazz and pop and, while this may often be a little opaque, these are certainly reflected in his compositional style.
In many respects, John Adams reacted against the academic compositional style of Babbitt and his circle. His Chamber Symphony is strongly influenced by cartoon music.
Photo: Joseph Puglia by Tom ten Seldam