Music 266A: Twentieth-Century Music

The course is a seminar in modern music before World War II. It meets on Wednesdays from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Anyone registering for this seminar MUST attend all three hours of all classes (no exceptions). There will be no class the week of October 21, and one private meeting on the final paper will substitute (time to be arranged).


  • Samson, Jim, Music in Transition, (London, 1993). (Not available until the fourth week of class: first three chapters in the xerox packet).
    A study of tonal expansion and atonality, 1900-1920.
  • Schoenberg, Arnold, Style and Idea (Berkeley, 1975).
  • Xerox packet from Academic Publishing.
  • October 7; Introduction: a justification for the synchronic view of modernism.
  • October 14; Differential analysis: a template.
    Read Leo Treitler, excerpt on synchronic vs. diachronic history from Music and the Historical Imagination (Xerox packet, PP. 36-43).
    Read Jim Samson, Music in Transition, Chapters 1 and 2, (PP. 1-30).
    Read Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea, PP. 398-472, from "Brahms the Progressive," to "Robert Schumann the Critic."
  • October 21; (no class).
  • November 4; 1908
    Read Samson, Chapter 3, "New Tonal Languages" (PP. 33-55).
    Read Schoenberg, PP. 185-191, "A Legal Question," and 365-372, "Problems in Teaching Art" and "Music." There will also be a comparative analysis of the musical examples from 1908 in the xerox packet (comparisons of Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ives, etc.)
  • November 11; Paths to Atonality.
    Read Samson, Chapters 4 and 6.
    Read Schoenberg, Part VI, "Theory and Composition," PP. 253-313.
  • November 18; 1918 Read Samson, Part III, "Early Atonality," PP. 151-197.
  • November 25; Serialism and Twelve-Tone Music
    Read Schoenberg, Part V, "Twelve-Tone Composition," PP. 207-249 and the essays on Webern (PP. 483-486), and Berg (PP. 474-476).
    We will also compare the musical examples from 1918 in the xerox packet.
    Read Samson, Chapter 7, "Berg and Webern," PP. 115-128.
  • December 2; 1930
    Comparative analysis of the musical examples from 1930.
    Stravinsky's evolution and stylistic growth as a twentieth-century paradigm.
  • December 9; Modern Music
    Read Schoenberg, Part II, "Modern Music," PP. 113-153. and "My Evolution," PP. 79-91.
    Read Samson, Chapter 8, "Szymanowski," PP. 129-142, and Chapter 13, "Rappel a l'ordre," PP. 199-221.


    1. Throughout the quarter, students will bring in projects related to 20th-century works. A good example would be a comparison of two pieces written in the same year by composers with markedly different styles. Since much of the reading focuses on European composers, the student should try to include a generous sampling of American music in the project.
    2. At some time during the quarter the student will schedule a private conference to discuss the final version of the seminar paper (substitutes for missed class).
    Feel free to email Reale with any questions at This syllabus and other educational materials are available at

    Updated: October 7, 1998.