We have almost reached the end - you might be thinking, "So, art music has been thriving for over 300 years. These days, it's dying out". That's where you'd be wrong, my friend. Modern composers have found new and innovative ways to bring art music to the forefront, thanks to emerging technology, new techniques, and writing for wind ensembles.
The early 20th Century was not exactly the age of new musical technologies - yet. The 1920s - 1950s marked the popularity of using folk songs in classical compositions - that is, music that the locals taught their children by rote, and not by reading music on a page. Three of the most successful composers to utilize this technique are Ralph Vaughan Williams (pictured above), Gustav Holst, and Percy Grainger. Fun fact: Vaughan Williams and Holst were good friends for many years, and wrote letters back-and-forth for decades (enough to fill a 1000 page book, as a matter of fact).
Take a listen to this Holst Suite in Eb Major for wind ensemble - this is a group that has no strings! It is a very similar instrumentation to the wind bands we see today. The main tune is a folk song that has been re-orchestrated!
By the 1960s, new electronic sound-makers were being invented and utilized by composers looking for something fresh to bring to the table. Instruments we use every day were also being manipulated to make even more interesting sounds! One of the most influential was John Cage, a visionary in both arts. While his music may not be everyone's cup of tea, you can thank him and other electronic artists such as Laurie Anderson for bringing electronic music to the forefront - without their innovations, we might not have the kind of beats Kanye West would groove to!
Take a quick listen to this interesting example - John Cage's Sonata V for Prepared Piano. By "prepared", he means that he wedged objects in between the piano's strings to make new sounds when the key is pressed. Don't try this at home! But doesn't it sound like an electronic keyboard plunking out a beat? This was even before synthesizers!
Well, that's the end of the series. But that's not the end of classical music; the performances or the creations. Why do you think classical music is still appreciated today? Why is it performed at weddings? Hopefully the brief history has shown you the ways art music has been appreciated and continues to be appreciated!