Symposion «Classicist modernism»

«Classicist modernism in twentieth-century music»
Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel
25 to 27 April 1996


Twenty papers and a round-table discussion closely examine the various forms of «classicist modernism» with an eye to its historical assessment. Among the topics discussed were the post-1950 music histories that championed the avantgarde and successfully equated it with a modern aesthetic. In doing so, however, they bypassed one of the most influential phenomena of the first half of the twentieth century: «musical classicism» which was relegated to the sidelines of history under the pejorative label of «neo-classicism». By the end of the century, it had become patently clear that creative reflection on past art harbored no less innovative potential than strict adherence to the quest for «new» material. Beginning on the musicological level, the symposium first discussed aesthetic paradigms, various forms of classicism in different composers and countries, and aspects of the history of musical composition and reception. It then approached the same topic with papers on the visual arts, architecture, and literature, thereby situating classicism as an overriding phenomenon in the history of art and human culture. Finally, in a round-table discussion headed by Reinhold Brinkmann, the composers Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Cristóbal Halffter, Heinz Holliger, and Wolfgang Rihm looked at the same subject from the composer's vantage point.

Symposium report: «Classicist modernism in twentieth-century music. Internationales Symposion der Paul Sacher Stiftung Basel 1996», edited by Hermann Danuser, 341 pp.