Introduction: avant-garde music and the sixties

Adlington, R. (2009) Introduction: avant-garde music and the sixties. In: Sound Commitments: Avant-garde Music and the Sixties. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 3-14. ISBN 9780195336658 (paperback) 9780199868551 (e-book)


The artistic avant‐garde, many of its theorists seem to agree, is a culture of subversion. Yet recent Anglo‐American musicology has tended to emphasise avant‐garde music's disavowal of issues of social and political concern. This volume assesses the intense engagement of many avant‐garde musicians in the tumultuous cultural and political developments of the 1960s, and the complex and often ambivalent status of their efforts when viewed in the wider social context. These musicians' conviction that aesthetic experiment and social progressiveness made natural bedfellows inevitably threw up some sharp dilemmas. Each chapter is briefly summarized.

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