A Brief Trip to Darmstadt: Avant-Garde Influences and the Use of Serialism within the Early Works of Harrison Birtwistle


This paper is devoted to Birtwistle’s early music written before 1965: dodecaphonic works that demonstrate, in part, a Darmstadt aesthetic, and which are marked by the influence of figures such as Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Using score examples, the composer’s own writings and interview material, it examines Birtwistle’s use of serialism, both in aesthetic and practice, discussing this within the context of his early experimentation and struggle to find a unique voice among the Avant-garde but without rejecting past musical traditions.

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