Neue Musik

Neue Musik (English: new music, French: musique nouvelle) is the collective term for a vast number of different currents of composed, Central European-influenced music from about 1910 to the present. Its focus is on compositions of 20th century music. It is characterized in particular by – sometimes radical – extensions of the tonal, harmonic, melodic and rhythmic means and forms. Neue Musik arose from the impression[clarification needed] of the twelve-tone technique at the beginning of the last century. Another influence was up to the free atonality given by a desire for an opening of compositional structures and requirements in the beginning of the last century.


The term Neue Musik was coined by music journalist Paul Bekker in his 1919 lecture of the same title.[1] The most acknowledged philosopher of the Neue Musik was Theodor W. Adorno, himself a composer in the tradition of Arnold Schoenberg. New music embraces the search for new sounds, new forms or novel combinations of old styles, partly through the continuation of existing traditions, partly through deliberate break with tradition and appears either as progress or as renewal (post- or neo-styles). In order to designate the music of the present in the narrower sense, the term contemporary music is used, without any fixed periodization being addressed. Another term near to the Neue Musik is Gegenwartsmusik (music of the present day). Authors in the German-speaking language area nowadays often tend to write the first letter small instead of capitalized, so today it's often "neue Musik" instead of "Neue Musik".

Theory and practiceEdit

A question for thematic condensing and more complex diversity often accompanies the Neue Musik. Thus, a distinct increase of moods can be noticed compared to romantic music. Pitch relationships are the crucial factor; further parameters are being implemented in the history of the Neue Musik. Neue Musik primarily is a European music system, whose reputation marks the intellectual peak of understanding music until today. For the interpreters of Neue Musik, an interpretation in many cases means an exponential extension of their skills.[2] This is also a reason, why Neue Musik isn't heard too often in concert halls. From the range of the Neue Musik, the Electronic music emerged. A noticeable break occurred through the absence of nearly any music from 1933 to 1945 in Germany. Nowadays, Adorno's command of autonomy for western art music is also being challenged. Instead, some authors refer to an inherent logic of musical developments.

List of composers first associated with Neue MusikEdit


  1. ^ Paul Bekker: Vortrag Neue Musik, full text at Wikisource.
  2. ^ Exponential extension of their skills: For example Brian Ferneyhough. "His works, it is often said, are the ne plus ultra of musical complexity, in the sense of notational overload, performing difficulty and even philosophical questioning." In: Service, Tom (10 September 2012). "A guide to Brian Ferneyhough's music". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Theodor W. Adorno: Philosophie der neuen Musik. J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tübingen 1949. English 2019: Philosophy of New Music, ed.: Robert Hullot-Kentor, Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press. First edition 2006. ISBN 978-0816636662
  • Blumröder, Christoph von: Der Begriff "neue Musik" im 20. Jahrhundert. Freiburger Schriften zur Musikwissenschaft 12. Munich: Katzbichler, 1981. ISBN 9783873970595.

External linksEdit

  • Claus-Steffen MahnkopfMit Gegenwartsmusik die Sondersphäre verlassen. Der Begriff „neue Musik“ ist ein Armutszeugnis (2016) [1], nmz
  • Channel of belanna000 [2] current Neue Musik on Youtube