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Modern Period


A nuclear reactor explodes at Chernobyl, Ukraine; Soviet authorities deny any cause for concern • Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after lift-off, killing its seven crew members • Corporal punishment is abolished in British schools • Film: Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (Fr) • Mark Tansey (US) paints Forward Retreat

World population exceeds five billion • Soviet leader Gorbachev and President Reagan sign historic treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals • British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wins a third term • Black Monday: Dow Jones share index nose-dives initiating a global stock market crash • Toni Morrison (US): Beloved

Benazir Bhutto becomes Prime Minister of Pakistan: first woman leader of a Muslim country • Islamic terrorists blow up a Pan Am 747 commercial jet over Lockerbie, Scotland; 270 people killed • Armenian earthquake claims over 25,000 lives • End of Iran-lraq war • Physicist Stephen Hawking (Eng): A Brief History of Time

George H. W. Bush takes office as 41st president of the USA • Soviet forces pull out of Afghanistan following nine-year occupation • Berlin Wall demolished • Playwright Vaclav Havel becomes President of Czechoslovakia following peaceful Velvet Revolution • F. W. de Klerk becomes State President of South Africa • Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini offers $3m reward to any Iranian who assassinates Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses • 96 Liverpool Football Club supporters crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web  s •  Soon after 21:00 on 14 December 1989, Sakharov went to his study to take a nap before preparing an important speech he was to deliver the next day in the Congress. His wife went to wake him at 23:00 as he had requested but she found Sakharov dead on the floor. According to the notes of Yakov Rapoport, a senior pathologist present at the autopsy, it is most likely that Sakharov died of an arrhythmia consequent to dilated cardiomyopathy at the age of 68. He was interred in the Vostryakovskoye Cemetery in Moscow.

Nelson Mandela freed after 27 years in a South African prison • Germany is reunified • New local taxes spark ‘poll tax’ riots in London • Margaret Thatcher ousted by own Conservative party; John Major succeeds her as Prime Minister • Iraq invades and annexes Kuwait • Hubble space telescope launched • Human Genome Project begun


Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (Russian: Андре́й Дми́триевич Са́харов; 21 May 1921 – 14 December 1989) was a Russian nuclear physicist, dissident, and activist for disarmament, peace and human rights.

He became renowned as the designer of the Soviet Union's RDS-37, a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov later became an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union, for which he faced state persecution; these efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize, which is awarded annually by the European Parliament for people and organizations dedicated to human rights and freedoms, is named in his honor.



Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of the pop group ABBA, lyrics by Tim Rice, and a book by Richard Nelson based on an idea by Rice. The story involves a politically driven, Cold War–era chess tournament between two grandmasters from America and the USSR and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any real individuals, the character of the American grandmaster (named Freddie Trumper in the stage version) was loosely based on Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.

Songs from Chess the complete cast recording

CHESS Mountain Duet
Song from the musical CHESS, performt by: Elaine Paige Tommy Körberg

CHESS The Epilogue - You and I - The Story of Chess
The final song form the musical CHESS,
performt by Tommy Körberg and Elaine Paige

15 August
Krzysztof Penderecky - Die schwarze Maske.

Die schwarze Maske (The Black Mask)
is an opera by composer Krzysztof Penderecki using a German libretto by the composer and Harry Kupfer which is based on a 1928 play by Gerhart Hauptmann. The opera premiered at the Salzburg Festival on 15 August 1986, after which there were productions mounted at the Vienna State Opera and the Great Theatre, Warsaw during the following opera seaso

Krzysztof Penderecki - Die schwarze Maske / Černá maska / The Black Mask / Czarna maska.
Libreto: Harry Kupfer 
Originální hra: Gerhart Hauptmann 

Opera Kraków, dirigent Kai Baumann, 20/1/2000

21 May
The Mask of Orpheus (1984), by Harrison Birtwistle, opens at the London Coliseum.

The complex atonal opera receives immense critical praise and proves a turning point in the composer’s career.
This year also
 completion of Earth Dances for orchestra.

Harrison Birtwistle - Earth Dances

Ensemble Modern Orchestra
Pierre Boulez

Gian-Carlo Menotti Goya.
Libretto by the composer.

Gian-Carlo Menotti – Goya.
Goya 28 Nov 1986

13 June
John Adams
’s exhilarating orchestral miniature Short Ride in a Fast Machine is first performed in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

John Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine
The BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop

Malcolm Arnold completes his ninth and final symphony.

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No 9, Op 128. 
Charles Groves-BBC Philharmonic-Premiere-1992

9 October
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. The musical begins its run on Broadway 15 months later, with other productions following worldwide. It becomes the most financially successful musical work of all time.



3 September
Modernist composer Morton Feldman dies from cancer in Buffalo, New York, aged 61.


7 October
Steve ​Reich’s The Four Sections is first performed by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.


The Four Sections is an orchestral work by the minimalist American composer Steve Reich.

The piece was commissioned for the San Francisco Symphony in honour of its 75th Anniversary by the widow of Ralph Dorfman. It was completed in August 1987 and given its premier that year on 7 October conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas in Davies Hall.

The title of the work refers to the four sections of the orchestra and the four harmonic sections dividing each movement.

The work consists of the following movements:

Strings (with winds and brass) (♩ = 80)
Percussion (♩ = 80)
Winds and brass (with strings) (♩ = 120)
Full orchestra (♩ = 180)

Steve Reich - The Four Sections - I. Strings (with Winds and Brass)
Steve Reich, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

The Four Sections II - Steve Reich

The Anatomy of The Orchestra - The Four Sections by Steve Reich

Steve Reich - The Four Sections IV - Full Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra

22 October
John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman scrutinise Richard Nixons 1972 meeting with Mao Zedong in Nixon in China, premiered in Houston. Though the opera does not garner critical favour, it is soon recognised as one of the most significant American stage works of recent times.

 “Nixon in China” - John Adams
Chamber Orchestra of Paris
Regência: Alexander Briger
Chatelet, 2012
Richard Nixon - Franco Pomponi
Mao Tse-Tung - Alfred Kim
Pat Nixon - June Anderson
Jiang Qing (Sra. Mao) - Sumi Jo
Chou En-Lai - Kyung Chun Kim
Henry Kissinger - Peter Siddhom
Tang (Primeira Secretária de Mao) - Sophie Leleu
Segunda Secretária de Mao - Alexandra Sherman
Terceira Secretária de Mao - Rebecca de pont Davies

12 December
John Cage’s Europera 1 and Europera 2 are introduced by the Frankfurt Opera Company. They are the first two of five planned ‘Europeras’ in which indeterminacy is applied to music and stage production, including set design, lighting and costumes. Public response is mostly negative.

Europeras is a series of five operas by the composer John Cage. Cage explained the punning title thus: "For two hundred years the Europeans have been sending us their operas. Now I'm sending them back."
1    Europeras I and II  - 12 December, 1987
2    Europeras III and IV - 1990
3    Europera V - 21 May, 1991 

John Cage - Europeras 1&2
Ruhrtriennale 2012

John Cage - Europera 3

Europera 5 - John Cage (Ausschnitte) - Zeitgenössische Oper
Premiere: 6. November 1999  Hebbel-Theater
Konzeption: Christina Tappe, Andreas Rochholl

Catherine Gayer - Sopran
Günter Neumann - Tenor
Amaral Vieira - Piano
Klaus Geitel - Grammophon



29 February
György Ligeti draws on jazz-blues, Bartok and the complex textures of Nancarrow in his Piano Concerto, first performed in Vienna.

György Ligeti: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Markus Bellheim (piano) 
ensemble oktopus für musik der moderne 

Conductor: Konstantia Gourzi

2 December 2013, Reaktorhalle, Munich

7 May
Karlheinz Stockhausen celebrates Eve in his opera Montag (Monday), the third day of his Licht cycle, at La Scala, Milan.

The seven days:
Monday (1984–1988)
Tuesday (1977–1991)
Wednesday (1992–1998)
Thursday (1978–1980)
Friday (1991–1994)
Saturday (1981–1983)
Sunday (1998–2003)


Montag aus Licht (Monday from Light) is an opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen in a greeting, three acts, and a farewell, and was the third of seven to be composed for the opera cycle Licht: die sieben Tage der Woche (Light: The Seven Days of the Week). The libretto was written by the composer.

Montag is an opera for 21 solo performers (14 voices, 6 instrumentalists, and 1 actor) plus mimes, a mixed choir, children's choir, and "modern orchestra". It was composed between 1984 and 1988. Monday is Eve's day. Its exoteric colour is bright green; its esoteric colours are opal and silver (Stockhausen 1989b, 200).

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Montag aus Licht - Montags-Abschied - Eva-Abschied

Monday Farewell of the opera MONDAY from LIGHT. Monday's Farewell, like the greeting, is played back over four channels in the foyer as the audience leaves the theatre. The foyer is now wreathed in clouds, as the ever-rising voices of the children-birds circle around. Toward the end, a single voice sings: "The Eve-children have been abducted by music into higher worlds with green clouds"

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Evas Zauber
Montag aus Licht - Evas Zauber l Eve's Magic. 

Act 3 of the opera MONDAY from LIGHT. It features an orchestra with synthesizers (called a "modern orchestra" by Stockhausen), backing 21 performers (14 voices, 6 instruments and an actor), as well as adult and children's choirs. Monday's exoteric colour is bright green.

00:00 Scene 1: Botschaft (Message)
26:42 Scene 2: Der Kinderfänger (The Pied Piper) ["The Child-Catcher"]
44:27 Scene 3: Entführung (Abduction)

Monday focuses on the character of Eve, on the feminine side of existence, on birth. Monday is the day of the moon, lunae dies in Latin, and the moon has been traditionally associated with the feminine, in contrast to the sun, which was regarded as masculine. In myths and legends, it is a symbol of fertility, and veneration of the "lesser light" of the moon is a cult of the creative and productive power of nature, of the instinctive wisdom and shadowy perceptions that rule the night.

15 July Philip Glass1000 Airplanes on the Roof

1000 Airplanes on the Roof is a melodrama in one act by Philip Glass which featured text by David Henry Hwang and projections by Jerome Sirlin. It is described by Glass as "a science fiction music drama". Premiere  July 15, 1988 Vienna International Airport.

1000 Airplanes on the Roof is a melodrama in one act by Philip Glass which featured text by David Henry Hwang and projections by Jerome Sirlin. It is described by Glass as "a science fiction music drama".

The work was commissioned by the Donau Festival, Krems an der Donau, The American Music Theater Festival, Philadelphia, and West Berlin City Council in 1988. The opera premiered on July 15, 1988, at the Vienna Airport in Hangar #3. The performance featured vocals by Linda Ronstadt and was conducted by Michael Riesman. The US premiere took place in September 1988 at The American Music Theater Festival, Philadelphia and went on to play in 40 US cities and Canada, including New York, Boston, Chicago and Toronto, as well as Glasgow, Scotland during that city's celebration as European City of Culture.
The drama is set in New York City with a sole character, "M", who recalls encounters with extraterrestrial life forms, including their message:

"It is better to forget, it is pointless to remember. No one will believe you. You will have spoken a heresy. You will be outcast."

Glass: 1000 Airplanes On The Roof - The Encounter

"The Encounter" Official Music Video by Philip Glass performed by Anthony Roth Costanzo from his album ARC
Performed with Jonathan Cohen - Les Violons du Roy
Directed by Mickalene Thomas

2 November
Steve Reich
's Different Trains for string quartet and tape is introduced by the Kronos Quartet in London. The work contrasts the American train journeys made by the composer as a child with those made at the same time by condemned Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Reich incorporates ‘sampled’ testimonials—of his governess, a retired porter, and three holocaust survivors—to generate melodic and rhythmic subject matter.

Steve Reich - Different Trains 

21 November
John Tavener’s Akathist of Thanksgiving, for solo voices, chorus and orchestra, gives glory to God at Westminster Abbey, London.

John Taverner - Slava tebie kontakion (Akhatist of Thanksgiving)



Aspects of Love (Andrew Lloyd Webber) – London production. Aspects of Love is a musical with a book and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart. It is famous for the song "Love Changes Everything."

Aspects Of Love (Original 1989 London Cast) - 1. Love Changes Everything

Aspects Of Love (Original 1989 London Cast) - 35. The First Man You Remember

Aspects Of Love (Original 1989 London Cast) - 45. Anything but Lonely

10 September
Peter Maxwell Davies
– Symphony No. 4

Peter Maxwell Davies: Sinfonia n. 4 op. 136
Scottish Chamber Orchestra diretta da Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

I. Moderato
II. Allegro
III. Adagio
IV. Andante - Allegro

4 September
Knussen conducts cellist Steven Isserlis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the premiere of John ​Tavener’s The Protecting Veil during the London Proms. The cello part represents the Mother of God, whose songful presence is continuous throughout. Tavener’s meditative lyrical ikon’ becomes his most famous composition.

Tavener  - The Protecting Veil

Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: David Zinman, condutor

1. The Protecting Veil 15:00
2. Annunciation 2:58
3. The Incarnation 3:44
4. Lament Of The Mother Of God At The Cross 12:03
5. Christ Is Risen! 3:00
6. The Dormition Of The Mother Of God 7:50
7. The Protecting Veil 3:20
8.Wake Up...& Die 19:09

City of Angels is a musical comedy with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart. The musical weaves together two plots, the "real" world of a writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay, and the "reel" world of the fictional film. City of Angels – Broadway production opened at the Virginia Theatre.

City of Angels - A Coe College Theatre Department Production in Spring 2014.

5 October
Elliott Carter
’s orchestral tryptich Three Occasions is premiered under Knussen with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

"Three Occasions" - Elliott Carter 
Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, 2008

Miss Saigon Act 1

Miss Saigon Act 2

Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. The setting of the plot is relocated to 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War, and Madame Butterfly's story of marriage between an American lieutenant and a geisha is replaced by a romance between a United States Marine and a South Vietnamese bargirl.

27 October
Michael Tippett
’s fifth and final opera, New Year, opens at the Grand Opera in Houston. Determined to connect with contemporary culture, the 84-year-old English knight of the realm has infused his creation with stylised popular music, including rap.

Michael Tippet: New Year - Suite
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra diretta da Richard Hickox --

I. The Space Ship Lands
II. Prelude
III. The Shaman Dance
IV. The Hunt fot the Scapegoat
V. Donny's Skarade
VI. Donny's Dream
VII. Dream Interlude
VIII. Jo Ann's Dreamsong
IX. Love Scene of Jo Ann and Pelegrin
X. The Paradise Dance
XI. The Beating-Out of the Scapegoat (the Bad Old Year)
XII. Ringing in the New Year 
XIII. The Space Ship Takes Off Again




Witold LutosławskiChantefleurs et chantefables for Soprano and Orchestra.

Witold Lutosławski - Chantefleurs et Chantefables 
Song cycle on poems of Robert Desnos  - Solveig Kringlebotn, soprano - Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra - Adrian Leaper (cond.) Recorded live in concert on X.X.2008 at the Teatro Monumental, Madrid.

1 February
The 75-year-old
Andrzej Panufnik builds his Symphony No. 10 to an abrasive brassy climax and concludes in devotional mood. Introduced under his own direction in Chicago, his final symphony has been commissioned for the centenary celebrations of the city’s symphony orchestra.

Andrzej Panufnik: Symphony No.10

I. Largo
II. Allegro moderato [05:09]
III. Presto [08:41]
IV. Adagio [11:07]

Konzerthausorchester Berlin diretta da Łukasz Borowicz.

14 October
Leonard Bernstein dies in New York, aged 72. His extraordinary success both as a composer and conductor made him the most famous American in classical music.


19 October
Ozawa directs the first performance of  Takemitsu’s From me flows what you call Time for five percussionists and orchestra, in New York.

Toru Takemitsu - From me flows what you call Time
La jolla symphony. Dir. Steven Schick.

2 December
Influential composer and conductor Aaron Copland dies in New York, aged 90.


Mark Tansey - Forward Retreat

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