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Salient. The Newspaper of Victoria University College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 19, No. 3. March 24, 1955

Twelve-Tone Music Popular

Twelve-Tone Music Popular

No matter what attitude New Zealand performers may have towards the twelve-tone music of Schonberg, Berg, Webern and their followers, there seems to be a growing audience for it. This was very much in evidence at a recent Music Society evening devoted to contemporary music. Works played were Arnold Schonberg's "Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte" (poem by Lord Byron) and Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3. Surprisingly, it was Schonberg's work which brought most comment; poor Copland was almost forgotten during the coffee-talk.

There was general agreement that the methods of twelve-tone composers are quite logical and consistent. To the objection that the system is "mathematical" and "purely intellectual", it was pointed out that Schonberg worked a posteriori and not a priori. For at least ten years before the discovery in 1923 of the Tonrelhe, Schonburg had been, writing music that was clearly dodecaphonic in spirit.

Contemporary Music?

Since World War II, twelve-tone composers (one hesitates to use a label like "the twelve-tone school") have occupied an increasingly large place in contemporary musical affairs. One or two New Zealand composers have even been experimenting in the field. Surely this music is worth hearing? Why don't our musicians play some of it? Do they imagine that no one wants to listen to it?

Here lies the reason for the Music Society's current series of evenings devoted to contemporary music. The interest taken in them has been encouraging, and gives the lie to our musical conservatives.

Peter Crowe.