Music Since 1900

“Atonal music is another matter; it says something else. The composer can play with the tonal language in such a way that he can set up expectation, satisfaction, a sense of coming home, a sense of being far removed from home, and all the emotions that human beings are capable of feeling.” –Benjamin Zander, from a broadcast conversation with Guy Raz on NPR’s TED Radio Hour

Many classical music fans are shocked to learn that Gustav Mahler, the tonal composer whose works have defined Benjamin Zander’s musical life, was a huge fan of Arnold Schoenberg (pictured above), the inventor of twelve-tone composition and the father of atonal music. Schoenberg’s work, although jarring to some, shaped the future of music in the 20th Century and beyond. As the leader of the Second Viennese School, his influence affected all composers who came after him—from Carl Nielsen to Michael Gandolfi. The items in this collection offer insights into repertoire that has shaped, and that continues to shape, the future of the music.