Happy New Ears: a short history of listening and its challenges in contemporary music.
Starting with the earliest modernist innovations by composers such as Stravinsky, Schönberg or Bartok, 20th-century music has gained the reputation to not make it easy for the listener. But while these composers still used a familiar sense of expressive power, after WW II a more fundamental wave of novel musical ideas swept through the Western world, which radically redefined the listening habits.
This lecture explores how the postwar avant-garde including John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, La Monte Young or Helmut Lachenmann introduced very personal, new ways of dealing with musical material and simultaneously invited listeners to abandon their familiar modes of listening and develop different, active ways of listening to this less familiar music. John Cage's witty New Year's greeting may serve as an appropriate motto for this endeavour: Happy New Ears.