Music since 1960

Sometime classical music blogger Alan Little ponders whether any good music has been written in the last 40 years. Which as regular readers might imagine is something like a red rag to a bull here at Rambler Towers. And, recently, I’ve been aware that I’ve not talked about music I know and love dearly that much recently.

So, to answer Alan’s question – and maybe by way of a listening list for anyone else pondering the same, or just wondering what gets me up in the morning – I thought I’d create a list of works, one for each year 1960-2000. However, I struggled hard to find works for 1978, 1979, 1990 and 1991 that were both great, and had any sort of personal significance. I should add, also, that this is nowhere near a complete list, or even necessarily a list of the greatest pieces of the last 40 years or so. It’s simply some of the ones I treasure most, and that I think everyone who truly loves music should listen to at least once. And some pieces – Górecki’s 3rd Symphony for example – seemed so obvious as to need no introduction from me, so I found more interesting substitutions.

Each one of these pieces have stunned, amazed or enlightened me, or just given me great pleasure from the moment I first heard them. Hey, maybe one day I’ll even tell you those stories …

Update (15/04/04): Click the links to read my post for that work

The list

1960 – Krzysztof Penderecki: Threnody – To the Victims of Hiroshima
1961 – György Ligeti: Atmosphères
1962 – Olivier Messiaen: Sept haïkï
1963 – Herbert Howells: Take him, earth, for cherishing
1964 – Terry Riley: In C
1965 – Steve Reich: It’s Gonna Rain
1966 – Harry Partch: And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma
1967 – Karlheinz Stockhausen: Hymnen
1968 – Witold Lutoslawski: Livre pour orchestre
1969 – Luciano Berio: Sinfonia
1970 – Brian Ferneyhough: Cassandra’s Dream Song
1971 – Morton Feldman: Rothko Chapel
1972 – Henryk Górecki: Symphony no.2
1973 – Steve Reich: Six Pianos
1974 – Wojciech Kilar: Krzesany
1975 – Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never be Defeated
1976 – John Cage: Apartment House 1776
1977 – Arvo Pärt: Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten
1980 – György Kurtág: Messages of the Late R.V. Troussova
1981 – Tadeusz Baird: Voices from Afar
1982 – Hans Otte: Das Buch der Klange
1983 – John Adams: Shaker Loops
1984 – Pierre Boulez: Répons
1985 – Brian Ferneyhough: Etudes transcendentales
1986 – Harrison Birtwistle: Earth Dances
1987 – John Zorn: Spillane
1988 – Kaija Saariaho: Grammaire des rêves
1989 – Luigi Nono: La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura
1992 – Meredith Monk: Atlas
1993 – John Tavener: The Apocalypse
1994 – Michael Finnissy: Folklore II
1995 – Péter Eötvös: Atlantis
1996 – Arvo Pärt: Litany
1997 – Richard Barrett: Opening of the Mouth
1998 – Gérard Grisey: Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil
1999 – Rebecca Saunders: cinnabar
2000 – Ian Wilson: … wander, darkling

(All dates are of completion)

… And if you can’t find something you like in that lot (masterpieces all, but granted, not all to everyone’s taste), then it’s a fair bet you probably aren’t going to enjoy contemporary music at all. On the other hand, if you want recording recommendations for any of these, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.


28 thoughts on “Music since 1960

  1. No Philip Glass? His Violin Concerto? His 3rd Symphony? Both are incredible. Oh well, I can’t wait to check out this list in depth – especially the names I’m not familiar with 🙂

    1. Hi Daniel – very possibly. The site has had one or two redesigns since I first made this post, over a decade ago! Thanks for the notice. I’ll get round to checking/fixing them one day, but you should be able to find them through the search box until then.

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