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British Musical Modernism
The Manchester Group and their Contemporaries


Part of Music since 1900

  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316649527

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About the Authors
  • British Musical Modernism explores the works of eleven key composers to reveal the rapid shifts of expression and technique that transformed British art music in the post-war period. Responding to radical avant-garde developments in post-war Europe, the Manchester Group composers - Alexander Goehr, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Harrison Birtwistle - and their contemporaries assimilated the serial-structuralist preoccupations of mid-century internationalism to an art grounded in resurgent local traditions. In close readings of some thirty-five scores, Philip Rupprecht traces a modernism suffused with the formal elegance of the 1950s, the exuberant theatricality of the 1960s, and - in the works of David Bedford and Tim Souster - the pop, minimalist, and live-electronic directions of the early 1970s. Setting music-analytic insights against a broader social-historical backdrop, Rupprecht traces a British musical modernism that was at once a collective artistic endeavor, and a sounding myth of national identity.

    • Provides the first historical and analytic account of a major period in post-war British music, giving detailed readings of 1960s composers who are little discussed in previous scholarship
    • Dismantles a monolithic distinction between high and popular art in the 1960s, showing that 1960s pop music and art music have much more in common than is usually thought
    • Offers a richly documented view of musical reception, drawing on a broad range of press and media sources from critics of the period
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'There are three reasons for its success. Firstly, a huge arc of musical history is investigated. It explores beyond the 'Manchester Group', into areas which have not been adequately studied. Secondly, the extensive bibliography is an ideal place to commence any in-depth enquiry into this generation of composers. Thirdly, the musical works analysed may be challenging, but they are all important and significant contributions to the period. Philip Rupprecht's clever approach to this investigation combines technical details with reception history which makes this book an impressive gateway into this complex, sometimes off-putting, but always thought-provoking musical world. … This present volume is an essential survey of a generation of British music that has been largely ignored. … I believe that this book sets the baseline for all research into the 'avant-garde' of the British post-Second World War era.' John France, MusicWeb International (

    'The book is an indispensable record of British postwar music history, its challenges, key moments, canons, composers, and contexts. Written for academic as well as popular readers, it propels the field of British twentieth-century music miles ahead.' Annika Forkert, CHOMBEC Newsletter

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316649527
    • length: 508 pages
    • dimensions: 243 x 168 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.86kg
    • contains: 13 b/w illus. 93 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Between nationalism and the avant garde: defining British modernism
    2. Post-war motifs
    3. Manchester avant-garde: Goehr, Davies and Birtwistle to 1960
    4. A Manchester generation in Paris, London, and Rome: Musgrave, Maw, Crosse, and Bennett
    5. Group portrait in the sixties: Davies, Birtwistle and Goehr to 1967
    6. Instrumental drama: Musgrave and Birtwistle in the sixties
    7. Vernaculars: Bedford and Souster as pop musicians
    8. The incurably heterogeneous Tim Souster: between Elektronische Musik and pop

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    British Musical Modernism

    Philip Rupprecht

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  • Author

    Philip Rupprecht, Duke University, North Carolina
    Philip Rupprecht is Associate Professor of Music at Duke University, North Carolina. He has published widely on twentieth-century British music and his books include Britten's Musical Language (Cambridge, 2002) and two edited volumes, Rethinking Britten (2013) and Tonality 1900–1950: Concept and Practice (2012). He is also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Wolfe Institute, Brooklyn College.

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