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Atonalism, Alienation & Appeasement


The 20th century inherited a musical language ready to collapse. Many older composers continued to compose in the style of the late Romantics while others wanted to explore new musical horizons.


World War I & its Aftermath

There is a Russian saying that “when the guns talk, the muses fall silent”. This was definitely the case during WWI but it was how composers and musicians reacted after the ‘War to End of Wars’ which is fascinating.


Communism, Fascism and Democracy

How did music change in Communist Russia, Fascist Germany and Democratic America between the wars?


World War II

WWII was the first conflict to take place in the age of mass electronic communication with the advent of the radio.  Music on the radio and live performances affected both the soldiers fighting in the war and those on the home front.


Music during the Cold War

After the war a massive split occurred in the musical world. Groups of composers and musicians alienated themselves from the rest of the music making and concert going communities, writing for small , likeminded audiences. While others continued to write for the general public.


1970’s to the present day

To date there has been no overarching title for music in the 20th century. It is sometimes called, though, the “Age of Convergence” as composers had an ever increasing pallet of musical ideas with which to work, incorporating not only the changes which occurred in the Classical world but all styles of music.



Heres What You Need To Know

Date & Time

All classes are held once a month and last for 1 and a half hours starting with coffee and cake.


Locations are the Eastern suburbs or North Shore. They are easily accessable by public transport.


Classes may be conducted elsewhere and can be customised to fit your specific group.

Classes & Groups

Classes must be taken as a series of 6. A minimum of 5 people is required to join a class.


Address will be supplied upon enrolment.

Series Four
6 Episodes
Episode 1
WWI & . . . 
Episode 2
Episode 4
Music . . .
Episode 4

Atonalism, Alienation & Appeasement

Listeners of classical music often find 20th century music difficult and demanding. The century spans the end of Romanticism, Atonalism, neo- Classicalism, Chance Music, Electronic Music and Minimalism to name a few.

Listeners of classical music often find 20th century music difficult and demanding. The century spans the end of Romanticism, Atonalism, neo- Classicalism, Chance Music, Electronic Music and Minimalism to name a few. Each of these new musical ideas was a reaction by composers against the status quo. 

This series tries to demystify this music by putting it into a historical and sociological context, looking at the World Wars, the rise of Communism, Nazism and the Cold War. Understanding ‘how’ and ‘why’ composers wrote as they did, helps to better comprehend the music from this complex period in history.


What It's All About

Join Coffee Cake & Culture

Courses do not necessarily follow the term calendar. Organise a group of friends for private classes or join in an existing group.

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