Polystylism is the use of multiple styles or techniques in literature, art, film, or, especially, music.

Some prominent contemporary polystylist composers include Peter Maxwell Davies,[1] Alfred Schnittke,[2] and John Zorn,[3] However, Gubaidulina, among others, has rejected the term as not applicable to her work.[4] Polystylist composers from earlier in the twentieth century include Charles Ives[5] and Erik Satie.[6] Among literary figures, James Joyce has been referred to as a polystylist.[7]

Though perhaps not the original source of the term, the first important discussion of the subject is Alfred Schnittke's essay "Polystylistic Tendencies in Modern Music (1971)".[8] The composers cited by Schnittke as those who make use of polystylism are Alban Berg, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Edison Denisov, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Jan Klusák, György Ligeti, Carl Orff, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henri Pousseur, Rodion Shchedrin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Slonimsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Igor Stravinsky, Boris Tishchenko, Anton Webern, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ John Webb, "Schnittke in Context" Tempo New Series/182, September 1992. 19-22. Citation on 19.
  2. ^ Ivan Moody, "The Music of Alfred Schnittke", Tempo new series, no. 168, 50th Anniversary 1939-1989 (March 1989): 4–11. Citation on 4.
  3. ^ Ted Gordon, "John Zorn: Autonomy and the Avant-Garde" Avant Vol. 3/T, 2012. 329-343. citation on 331.
  4. ^ Vera Lukomsky, "Sofia Gubaidulina: 'My Desire Is Always to Rebel, to Swim against the Stream!'”. Perspectives of New Music 36. no. 1 (Winter 1998): 5–41, citation on 24-26.
  5. ^ Nachum Schoffman, "Charles Ives's Song 'Vote for Names', Current Musicology 23 (1977): 56–68.
  6. ^ Daniel Albright, "Postmodern Interpretations of Satie's Parade", Canadian University Music Review/Revue de Musique des Universités Canadiennes 22, no. 1 (2002): 22–39.
  7. ^ Rudolph von Abele, "Film as Interpretation: A Case Study of Ulysses", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31 (1973): 487–500, citation on 495.
  8. ^ Alfred Schnittke, "Polystylistic Tendencies in Modern Music (1971)", in A Schnittke Reader, edited by Aleksandr Ivashkin, English translation by John Derek Goodliffe, 87–90 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002) ISBN 0-253-33818-2, ISBN 978-0-253-33818-1.