Modern Music 1910–

Unlike the Baroque, Romantic and Classical periods, the Modern era is both one of the hardest and the easiest periods of musical history to define. In terms of time-scale it is easy, being simply all the music that has been written since roughly 1910; in terms of the actual music itself, explanation becomes more difficult.

The styles of the prominent composers are massively varied, ranging from the blues-influenced work of Gershwin to Berg's minimalist First Symphony, or from Bartók's nationalistic folk music to Stravinsky's wild and turbulent The Rite of Spring.

What can safely be said, however, is that it was at this time that music really began to change, with numerous composers experimenting and developing new ideas and approaches in order to throw off the restrictive chains of previous times. New instruments were introduced and and orchestration began to be transformed, with composers such as Schoenberg redefining the previously accepted 'scales' and 'tonal' patterns, influencing others, such as Berg, to progress to newer and more daring musical techniques. More importantly, attitudes began to change and people became more prepared to give time to new styles.

Currently, we live in the age of electronic music, where actual music production has become simpler than ever before with computers playing a large role. As a result, it could be said that for the first time there are no rules left in music, rendering the future delightfully unpredictable.


Composer Home Country Born Died
Jean Sibelius Tavastehus Finland 1865 1957
Ralph Vaughan Williams Down Ampney England 1872 1958
Arnold Schoenberg Vienna Austria 1874 1951
Béla Bartók Nagyszentmiklos Hungary 1881 1945
Zoltán Kodály Kecskemét Hungary 1882 1967
Igor Stravinsky Oranienbaum Russia 1882 1971
Anton Webern Vienna Austria 1883 1945
Alban Berg Vienna Austria 1885 1935
Sergei Prokofiev Sontsovka Russia 1891 1953
George Gershwin New York USA 1898 1937
Aaron Copland New York USA 1900 1991
William Walton Oldham England 1902 1983
Michael Tippett London England 1905 1998
Dimitri Shostakovich St Petersburg Russia 1906 1975
Benjamin Britten Lowestoft England 1913 1976