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Leon Botstein

A term used in music to denote a multi-faceted but distinct and continuous tradition within 20th-century composition. It may also refer to 20th-century trends in aesthetic theory, scholarship and performing practice. Modernism is a consequence of the fundamental conviction among successive generations of composers since 1900 that the means of musical expression in the 20th century must be adequate to the unique and radical character of the age. The appropriateness of the term to describe a coherent and discrete movement has been underscored by the currency of the word ‘postmodern’, which refers to the music, art and ideas that emerged during the last quarter of the century as a reaction to Modernism (see Postmodernism). The word ‘Modernism’ has functioned throughout the century both polemically and analytically; although it is applied loosely to disparate musical styles, what links its many strands is a common debt to the historical context from which it emerged....