20th Century Music


Claude Debussy

08/22/1862 - 03/25/1918

Trained at the Paris Conservetoire, he is largely regarded as the most influential impressionist composer.

Arnold Schoenberg

09/13/1874 - 07/13/1951

Invented serialism - devised a method of composition using variations of 12 semitones and created music with little or no tonality.


03/07/1875 - 12/28/1936

Often compared to/with Debussey


06/17/1882 - 04/06/1971

Originally wrote many ballet scores in Paris and then, after the war moved to America and composed in neoclassicism style, inspired by the 12-tone note system created by Schoenberg.
He is also sometimes seen as the musical counterpart to Picasso.

Anton Webern

12/03/1882 - 09/15/1945

Pupil of Schoenberg and composed in the style of serialism.

Alban Berg

02/09/1885 - 12/24/1934

Was a pupil of Schoenberg and, like Webern, also is held in high regard in the Serialism genre.

John Cage

09/05/1912 - 08/12/1992

Became famous in light of 4'33'' - a silent piece of work where the ambience was the music.

Uses chance and indeterminancy, electronic technniques and every possible experimental device including prepared piano.

Jerry Goldsmith

1929 - 2004


Terry Riley


Took part in music experiments.
The seminal minimalist work, In C, provided the conception for a form comprised of interlocking repetitive patterns that was to change the course of twentieth-century music.

Influenced Steve Reich, Philip Glass, The Who and many more...

Steve Reich


Was interested in electro-acoustic music, then music of Africa.
He has experimented particularly with the multiple use of the same instrument and forms of exact but not simultaneous repetition.
Uses unusual combinations of instruments and tapes (often for phasing)

Philip Glass


Basically - more than a little bit weird, but revolutionary.

Michael Nyman


Nyman is the person we have to thank for the word 'minimalism'. He is one of today's most fashionable composers.