Music GCSE: Stravinsky, Russian music and modernism

Howard Goodall describes the shifting musical scene at the end of the 19th century and explains how Igor Stravinsky's completely original approach to texture and polyrhythm set the tone for modernist music.

The short film includes extracts from Stravinsky's Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.

This clip is from the series Howard Goodall's Story of Music.

Teacher Notes

The clip presents Debussy, Mahler and Stravinsky as radicals of their day.

Discuss with the students who they consider to be today's radical musicians. What would they have to do today to be radical?

This could lead to a short composition task where the students aim to create a radical composition.

What instruments could be used to reinterpret these composers' work for a contemporary audience?

Curriculum Notes

This topic is relevant to, GCSE, AS Level and Higher Music in the areas of music history, notation, composition, music theory and understanding styles.

Notation and melodic movement
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Harmony, dissonance and an introduction to opera
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Key signatures, equal temperament and the 12-tone tuning system
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Handel, the pianoforte and oratorio
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Mozart, melodic writing and the symphony
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Haydn, symphonies and melodic writing
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A profile of Beethoven
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Franz Liszt, symphonic poems and orchestral music
Saint-Saëns and developments in French composition
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Debussy, world music and impressionism
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Shostakovich and the effects of Nazi rule on composers
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Minimalism and the advance of music technology
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Blues and ragtime
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