Das Ende der Neuen Musik


  • Christoph von Blumröder




The term "Neue Musik" was coined for a special concept of fundamental musical innovation within Austro-German music theory of the early 20th century, and it found no terminological equivalent beyond the German language. Established by Paul Bekker with his lecture “Neue Musik” in 1919, composers such as Stockhausen or Ligeti embraced the term with its emphatic claim to innovation and new departures. However, one hundred years on the term "Neue Musik" is often used mainly as a synonym for any type of contemporary music. This article questions whether the term "Neue Musik" is still an appropriate framework for a current theory of musical composition. Not only have the specific musical circumstances changed within the course of the 20th century, but also the political and social conditions have altered drastically after two world wars which had given special impulses to those composers who strove for a new foundation of music after 1918 and 1945 respectively. This article argues that the age of "Neue Musik" has come to an end in the late 20th century, and thus it is now necessary to introduce alternative terminological concepts and methodical directions for music historiography.