top of page

Modern Period


Ronald Reagan becomes 40th president of the USA • France abolishes the death penalty (and with it, the guillotine) • Egyptian President Anwar Sadat assassinated • Space Shuttle ‘Colombia’ launched • Britain’s last American mainland colony, Belize, gains independence • AIDS virus identified • Britain’s Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer •
Helmut Newton – Sie kommen! ("They're coming!", photographic diptych; published in French Vogue, November) 

Falklands War: Argentina invades the Falkland Islands; Britain sends task force and gains swift victory • Death of President Brezhnev (USSR); Yuri Andropov succeeds him • Israel invades Lebanon, beginning First Lebanon War • First artificial human heart implanted, in Utah • Film: Blade Runner • Michael Jackson (US) releases album Thriller

Soviets shoot down a Korean Airlines flight for invasion of air space; 269 passengers killed, including 81 South Koreans and 61 Americans • President Regan announces defensive ‘Star Wars’ program • Christo (Bulg/US) and Jeanne-Claude (Fr/US) unveil Surrounded Islands in Miami’s Biscayne Bay, using 6.5 million sq ft of floating pink fabric

Ethiopian famine claims around one million lives • Indian PM Indira Ghandi assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, shortly after ordering a raid on a temple in Amritsar • IRA bomb Conservative Party conference: five die, 34 injured • Apple computers launch the Macintosh • Milan Kundera (Czech) publishes The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Soviet leader • Mexico City earthquake claims around 10,000 lives; leaves tens of thousands homeless • British scientist Dr Joe Farman identifies ozone hole over Antarctica • Boris Becker (Ger), aged 17, becomes youngest ever men’s Wimbledon champion • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colomb): Love in the Time of Cholera


Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez ([1] 6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo [ˈɡaβo] or Gabito [ɡaˈβito] throughout Latin America. Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century and one of the best in the Spanish language, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.[2] He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism.



23 January
Composer Samuel Barber dies from cancer in New York, aged 70.


11 May
(Andrew Lloyd Webber) – London production opened at the New London Theatre on May 11.

15 March
Karlheinz Stockhausen premieres Donnerstag (Thursday) at La Scala, Milan. Launching his projected seven-part operatic Licht (Light) cycle, the work explores the childhood and musical awakening of archangel Michael, son of Eve and Lucifer, and his desire to become incarnate as a human being. Donnerstag concludes with five trumpeters performing a Thursday Farewell’ from nearby rooftops and balconies as the audience leaves the building.

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Donnerstag Aus Licht 2/4

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Donnerstag Aus Licht 1/4
Bass Vocals [Luzifer] – Matthias Hölle  
Chorus [Tape] – WDR Rundfunkchor Köln  
Conductor – Karlheinz Stockhausen  
Conductor [Chorus] – Herbert Schernus  
Soprano Vocals [Eva] – Annette Meriweather

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Donnerstag Aus Licht 3/4

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Donnerstag Aus Licht 4/4

20 September
Steve ​Reich introduces Tehillim for voices and chamber ensemble, in New York. Featuring Hebrew settings of verses from four psalms, the work reflects Reich’s growing interest in his Jewish heritage.

Steve Reich - Tehillim
Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, Alan Pierson, conductor, 2017

18 October
Pierre Boulez conducts the first version of his IRCAM project Repons in Donaueschingen, scored for two pianos, orchestra and electronics.

Pierre Boulez - Répons 
pour six solistes, ensemble de chambre, sons électroniques et électronique temps réel
Ensemble intercontemporain
Matthias Pintscher, direction   
Réalisation informatique musicale Ircam Elektronische Verarbeitung der Musik Ircam Andrew Gerzso, Gilbert Nouno
Enregistré à la Philharmonie de Paris, 2015

15 April
John Adams’s first large-scale mature work, Harmonium for chorus and orchestra, is first performed in San Francisco.

John Adams - Harmonium 
Performance from the First Night of the BBC
Proms 2017.
Conductor - Edward Gardner
Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra
Choir - BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC
Proms Youth Choir



Morton Feldman: Three Voices;
For John Cage, for violin and piano.

Morton Feldman: Three Voices, per tre soprano.
Dedicato a Joan la Barbara.

1. Opening
2. Legato
3. Slow Waltz
4. First Words
5. Whisper
6. Chords
7. A non accented legato
8. Snow Falls
9. Legato
10. Slow Waltz and ending

Joan la Barbara, voce.

Morton Feldman - For John Cage for violin and piano

Alexander "Sasha" Yakub, violin
Forrest Eimold, piano

Holden Chapel - Harvard University, 2016

7 April
Song and Dance - Andrew Lloyd Webber – London production opened at the Palace Theatre on April 7

Song and Dance is a musical comprising two acts, one told entirely in "Song" and one entirely in "Dance", tied together by a unifying love story.

The "Song" act is Tell Me on a Sunday, with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, about a young British woman's romantic misadventures in New York City and Hollywood. The "Dance" act is a ballet choreographed to Variations, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his cellist brother Julian, which is based on the A Minor Caprice No. 24 by Paganini.

Andrew Lloyd Webber - Song & Dance
Lyrics by Don Black
Starring Sarah Brightman in 'Tell Me On A Sunday' and Wayne Sleep in 'Variations'
Performance staged at the Palace on April 28, 1984

Tōru Takemitsu: Rain Coming for chamber orchestra;
Rain Spell for flute, clarinet, harp, piano and vibraphone.

Toru Takemitsu - Rain Coming

Aarhus Sinfonietta

Toru Takemitsu - RAIN SPELL
for Flute, Clarinet, Harp, Piano and Vibraphone
Toronto New Music Ensemble

26 February
John Adams conducts the premiere of his Grand Pianola Music for orchestra before a 'befuddled audience’ (according to the composer), in San Francisco.

John Adams - Grand Pianola Music
Part 1A (fast)
Part 1B (slow)
'On The Dominant Divide' (fast)

29 March
Composer and influential music educator
Carl Orff dies in Munich, aged 86.


György Ligeti – Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano.

György Ligeti - Trio for violin, french horn and piano, "Homage to Brahms"
The Romanian Foundation for Excellence in Music
Published on Oct 20, 2014
Martin Owen - french horn
Vlad Maistorovici - violin
Dario Bonuccelli - piano



Singin' in the Rain is a musical with a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown.

Adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name, the plot closely adheres to the original. Set in Hollywood in the waning days of the silent screen era, it focuses on romantic lead Don Lockwood, his sidekick Cosmo Brown, aspiring actress Kathy Selden, and Lockwood's leading lady Lina Lamont, whose less-than-dulcet vocal tones make her an unlikely candidate for stardom in talking pictures.

Singin' in the Rain (Act 1)

Singin' in the Rain (Act 2)


17 June
Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place, his last opera, opens in Houston. It has been jointly commissioned by the Kennedy Center, the Houston Grand Opera and La Scala.

A Quiet Place - akte 1

Funeral director : Frank Fritschy
Bill : Frans Kokkelmans
Susie : Bernadette ter Heyne
Analyst : Willem Veldhuizen
Doc : Guido Janssen
Mrs. Doc : Ine Janssen-Widdershoven
Dede : Wilma Bierens-Verbeet
Francois : Andrea Poddighe
Junior : Roger Smeets
Sam : Joep Bröcheler

Koor en orkest van Conservatorium Maastricht

Jean-Philippe Rieu, muzikale leiding
Sjeng Verheijden, regie

A Quiet Place - akte 2
Young Sam : Huub Claessens
Dinah : Yvonne Schiffelers
Jazztrio : Bernadette ter Heyne, Edward Hoepelman en Frans Kokkelmans/Hans Schaepkens

A Quiet Place - akte 3
Dede : Wilma Bierens-Verbeet
Junior : Roger Smeets
Francois : Andrea Poddighe
Sam : Joep Bröcheler

11 January
Krzysztof Penderecki
's Cello Concerto No. 2 is introduced in Berlin with Rostropovich as soloist.

Krzysztof Penderecki - Cello Concerto No 2

Mstislav Rostropovich, cello

Philharmonia Orchestra
Krzysztof Penderecki, conductor

Live recording. London, February 1986

8 March
Composer Sir William Walton dies on the island of Ischia, aged 80.


29 September
Witold Lutostawski has his Symphony No. 3 introduced under Sir Georg Solti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It becomes one of the most popular symphonies composed in the final quarter of the century.

Witold Lutoslawski - Symphony no. 3  
Berliner Philharmoniker, cond. W. Lutoslawski, 1985

28 November
Olivier Messiaen’s first and last opera, Saint Francois d’Assise, premieres at the Paris Opera. Composed over a period of eight years to his own libretto, the four-and-a-half-hour work divides critics, though audience reaction during the 11-performance run is extremely favourable.


Saint François: José van Dam
L'Ange: Christine Schäfer
Le Lépreux:  Chris Merritt
Frère Léon: Brett Polegato
Frère Massée: Charles Workman
Frère Elie: Christoph Homberger
Frère Bernard: Roland Bracht
Frère Sylvestre: Guillaume Antoine
Frère Ruffin:  David Bizic

Choeur et Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris
Sylvain Cambreling - 
Paris, Opéra Bastille, 2004

4 December
The Kronos Quartet gives Morton ​Feldman’s sparse String Quartet No. 2 a four-hour premiere in Toronto. The full version of the work, which runs as continuous music, lasts around six hours.

Morton Feldman - String quartet no. 2 (1983)
FLUX Quartet at The Tanks, Tate Modern, London on december 4, 2016
FLUX quartet: Tom Chiu - violin, Conrad Harris - violin, Max Mandel - viola, Felix Fan - cello



Starlight Express is a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Richard Stilgoe (lyrics). Later productions have used additional songs with lyrics by Don Black, David Yazbek, Nick Coler and Lauren Aquilina, and with music by the composer's son, Alastair Lloyd Webber.

"Starlight Express" - Andrew Lloyd Webber
"Starlight Express" Sung by Steven Lugovsky and Steve Jepson with the Wheaton Symphony, and conducted by Peter Lipar.

"Starlight Express" - Andrew Lloyd Webber
Selections from "Starlight Express" Arr.: Jerry Nowak
Leitung: Detlev Jakob

17 March
Steve Reich
takes a rare break from ensemble-sized forces in The Desert Music, scored for chorus and orchestra. The cantata is broadcast live from Cologne.

Tehillim & The Desert Music - Steve Reich
Alarm Will Sound 

01. Tehillim: I. Psalm 19:2-5, "Hashamyim mehsapehrim kavohd Kail"
02. Tehillim: II. Psalm 34:13-15, "Mihaish heychahfaytz chayyim"
03. Tehillim: III. Psalm 18:26-27, "Imchahsid, titchahsahd"
04. Tehillim: IV. Psalm 150:4-6, "Halleluhu batof umachol"
05. The Desert Music: I. Fast
06. The Desert Music: II. Moderate
07. The Desert Music: III. Part I: Slow
08. The Desert Music: III. Part II: Moderate
09. The Desert Music: III. Part III: Slow
10. The Desert Music: IV. Moderate
11. The Desert Music: V. Fast

Philip Glass -  The Civil Wars
performed in Amsterdam 19 June 2014

00:46 Prologue
19:42 First Interlude
26:10 Act V Scène A
interval (excluded)
43:43 Act V Scène B
1:04:28 Second Interlude
1:07:56 Act V Scène C
1:32:02 Interview with Philip Glass by phone
1:38:38 Translation in Dutch of interview

Philip Glass - The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down

25 May
Samstag (Saturday), the second opera of Karlheinz ​Stockhausen’s Licht (Light) cycle, premieres in Milan.

The seven days:
There are seven operas, each named for a day of the week, whose subject matter reflects attributes associated in traditional mythologies with each day. These attributes in turn rest on the seven planets of Antiquity (and their associated deities) from which the day-names are derived (Stockhausen 1989b, 152–53):

Monday = The Moon - 1988
Tuesday = Mars - 1993
Wednesday = Mercury - 1995
Thursday = Jupiter - 1981
Friday = Venus - 1996
Saturday = Saturn - 1994
Sunday = The Sun - 2000
Stockhausen sought to fashion the subjects for each opera through absorption in the traditions of this planet and immersion into the intuitive meaning of each day of the week—meanings of which most people are not aware (Stockhausen 1989b, 176). The cycle has neither a "beginning" nor an "ending"; like the days of the week, each opera leads to the next one, so that the conflict of Tuesday is followed by the reconciliation of Wednesday, and the mystical union of Sunday prepares the way for the new life of Monday. "In this way there is neither end nor beginning to the week. It is an eternal spiral" (Stockhausen 1989b, 156). Each opera is composed from an elaborated form of the corresponding day-segment of the superformula, made by superimposing one or more complete lines from the superformula, compressed to the length of the day-segment. These are named for the day in question (e.g., Mittwoch-Formel.) The separate acts and scenes often involve further superimpositions of formula material. For example, "Luzifers Traum", the first scene of Samstag, has a total of five layers (Kohl 1990 and Kohl 1993).

Each day is also assigned a principal (or "exoteric") colour, as well as one or more secondary (or "esoteric") colours (Stockhausen 1989b, 199–200).

Stockhausen : Samstag aus Licht - Luzifers Tanz -
mit theatralischer Schlussvariante 

Third scene of the opera SATURDAY from LIGHT, for bass voice, piccolo trumpet, piccolo flute - stilt dancer, ballet (or mimes) -  wind orchestra (symphonic band) of ca. 80 player

7 August
Luciano Berio recasts Shakespeare’s Prospero in his 'musical action’ Un re in ascolto (A Listening King), first staged in Salzburg.

Luciano Berio - Un re in ascolto
azione musicale in 2 parti su testo di Italo Calvino 
Wiener Philharmoniker - direzione, Lorin Maazel
Prospero: Theo Adam, bs; 
Regista: Heinz Zednik, ten; 
Venerdì: Helmut Lohner, voce recit; 
La protagonista: Patricia Wise, sopr; 
Il soprano I: Karan Armstrong, sopr; 
Il soprano II: Sylvia Greenberg, sopr; 
Il mezzosoprano: Rohangiz Yachmi, msop; 
I tre cantanti: Thomas Moser, ten; Georg Tichy, br; Alfred Muff, bs; 
Infermiere Gabriele Sima, sopr; 
La moglie: Anna Gonda, msop; 
Il dottore: Helmut Wildhaber, ten; 
L'avvocato: George Ionescu, bs; 

Philipp Glass -  Akhnaten (Full, Disk 1/2)

Act 1: Year of Akhnaten's Reign. Thebes
1) Prelude: Refrain, Verse 1, Verse 2 (10'44)
2) Prelude: Verse 3 (o'40)
3) Scene 1: Funeral of Amenhotep III (8'59)
4) Scene 2: The coronation of Akhnaten (17'15)
5) Scene 3: The Window of Appearaneces (9'03) 

Act II: Year 5 to 15. Thebes and Akhetaten
6) Scene 1: The temple (12.47)
7) Scene 2: Akhnaten and Nefertiti (10'10)

Philipp Glass - Akhnaten (Full, Disk 2/2)

1) Act 2. Scene 3. Narration. The City [Beginning] (2'30)
2) Act 2. Scene 3. The City - Dance (Conclusion) (5'10)
3) Act 2. Scene 4. Hymn (13'35)
4) Act 3. Scene 1. The Family (11'36)

Act III: Year 17 and the present. Akhetaten
5) Act 3. Scene 2. Attack and Fall (7'43)
6) Act 3. Scene 3. The Ruins (7'28)
7) Act 3. Scene 4. Epilogue (10.37)

24 March
Philip Glass
explores ancient Egyptian themes in Akhnaten, staged for the first time in Stuttgart. The opera completes his historical triptych of 'religion, orthodoxy and reaction’. (See also Einstein, 1976 and Satyagraha, 1980.)

28 September
Krzysztof Penderecki writes from the heart to his suffering compatriots in the Polish Requiem, introduced under Rostropovich in Stuttgart.

Polish Requiem (original Polish title: Polskie Requiem; German: Polnisches Requiem), also A Polish Requiem, is a large-scale requiem mass for soloists, mixed choir and orchestra by the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The Lacrimosa, dedicated to the trade union leader Lech Wałęsa, was written for the unveiling of a statue at the Gdańsk Shipyard to commemorate those killed in the Polish anti-government riots in 1970. He expanded the work into a requiem, writing other parts to honour different patriotic events over the next four years. The Polish Requiem was first performed in Stuttgart on 28 September 1984. Penderecki revised and expanded the work in 1993, and expanded it again in 2005 with the additional movement, Ciaccona. It is called Polish Requiem because its parts are dedicated to heroes and victims of Polish history. One of the better-known works by Penderecki, the mass largely follows the liturgical Latin of the requiem format with the addition of Święty Boże, the Polish translation of the Trisagion.

PENDERECKI: Polish Requiem (A) 
Klosinska, Rappe, Minkiewicz, Nowacki,
Warsaw National Philharmonic



Claude-Michel SchönbergLes Misérables

Les Misérables, colloquially known in English-speaking countries as Les Mis or Les Miz (/leɪ ˈmɪz/), is a sung-through musical based on the 1862 novel of the same name by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. The musical premiered in Paris in 1980, and has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and original French-language lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. An English-language libretto and English lyrics were written by Herbert Kretzmer. The London production has run continuously since October 1985, making it the longest-running musical in the West End and the second longest-running musical in the world after the original Off-Broadway run of The Fantasticks.

Set in early 19th-century France, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his desire for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his sister's starving child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a bishop inspires him by a tremendous act of mercy, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a significant amount of other characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists attempt to overthrow the government at a street barricade.

Les Misérables - 10th Anniversary Concert Cast

In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Alain Boublil, Claude‐Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer

 John AdamsThe Chairman Dances

The Chairman Dances - John Adams
Cole Conservatory Symphony Orchestra at CSULB
Johannes Müller-Stosch, Music Director, 2011

Pierre BoulezDialogue de l'ombre double

Pierre Boulez - Dialogue de l'ombre double 

Jussef Eisa clarinet, Proms debut artist
IRCAM live electronics
West--Eastern Divan Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Royal Albert Hall, 21 July 2012

Peter Maxwell Davies An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise

Peter Maxwell Davies - An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise.

George MacIlwham, bagpipes
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra diretta da Peter Maxwell Davies.

Morton Feldman: For Bunita Marcus, for piano

Morton Feldman - For Bunita Marcus 
Stephane Ginsburgh, piano
Sub Rosa (2007)

18 January
Witold Lutostawski’s Partita for violin and piano is first given in St Paul, Minnesota. 


I. Allegro giusto (00:00:00 - 04:15)
II. Ad libitum (04:18)
III.Largo (05:29)
IV. Ad libitum (11:51)
V. Presto (12:38)
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin

Philip Moll, piano


BBC Symphony Orchestra

1 June
Akira Kurosawas epic film Ran is released in Japan, with music by Toru ​Takemitsu.

RAN - Soundtracks - Akira Kurozawa -
Toru Takemitsu

11 December 
Philip Glass – The Juniper Tree.

The Juniper Tree is an opera co-composed by Philip Glass and Robert Moran in 1985 to a libretto by Arthur Yorinks based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

The opera is in two acts and is scored for two baritones, bass, mezzo-soprano, four sopranos, tenor, mixed chorus, children's voices and chamber orchestra. Each composer wrote alternating scenes and utilized each other's themes to provide structural unity. Glass retained ownership of the opera, and did not allow for the "live" recording of the premiere (with Jayne West and Sanford Sylvan) to be released until 2009. Until then, Moran encouraged his fans to distribute bootleg copies so that people could hear it.

The Juniper Tree - Philip Glass & Robert Moran

Wife – Summer Hassan
Mama Bird – Maria Brea (Studio Artist) 
Husband – Ben Edquist
Son – Megan Mikailovna Samarin
Stepmother – Annie Rosen
Daughter – Madison Leonard

Goldsmith – -Andrew Gilstrap (Studio Artist) 
Cobbler – -Michael J. Hawk (Studio Artist) 
Miller – -Sam Grosby (Studio Artist) 
Baby Birds/Village Folk – 2017
Wolf Trap Studio Artists

Conductor – Lidiya Yankovskaya

Witold LutostawskiChain 2 for violin and orchestra

Lutosławski - Chain 2 (Łańcuch 2), Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra,
violin: György Pauk
conductor Ken Takaseki and New Japan Philharmonic,


Helmut Newton – Sie kommen!

bottom of page