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date: 04 July 2020

Darmstadt Schoollocked

  • Christopher Fox


A designation associated primarily with the serial music written in the 1950s by Nono, Maderna, Stockhausen and Boulez and promoted by them in the 1950s at the Darmstadt summer courses. The term was coined by Nono in his 1957 Darmstadt lecture, ‘Die Entwicklung der Reihentechnik’ (the development of serial technique). The lecture presented analyses of the serial practice in Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra op.31 and Webern's Variations op.30, before going on to a briefer consideration of new developments in recent works by Boulez (the first movement of Structures I), Maderna (his 1955 string quartet), Stockhausen (Elektronische Studie II and Zeitmasze) and Nono himself (Incontri).

Nono explicitly located the new serial techniques within the historical development of musical modernism, claiming direct lineage from the Second Viennese School. He also drew parallels between the work of the Darmstadt School and that of the Weimar and Dessau Bauhaus in the 1920s and 30s. In the work of the new generation of composers, Nono argued, the series no longer has any thematic function; instead the series, together with its various permutations, had become the basis for the entire composition, determining not only pitch but also tempo, duration, register, dynamic and articulation....

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Contemporary Music Review