Prospects for Neomodernism in the Music of Matthew Taylor and Peter Fribbins

Dromey, Christopher ORCID logoORCID: (2013) Prospects for Neomodernism in the Music of Matthew Taylor and Peter Fribbins. International Journal for Contemporary Composition, 7 . pp. 1-19. [Article]


In recent years, scholars have begun to appreciate the reawakening of modernist tendencies in music of the past twenty years. In their respective countries, for example, David Metzer, Alastair Williams and Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf have each sketched the musicological framework for a perseverant, ‘transformed’ or ‘second’ modernity. My article asks where British music belongs on their maps of the contemporary scene and surveys the work of Matthew Taylor (b. 1964) and Peter Fribbins (b. 1969) in this light. Drawing on interviews with each composer and analysis of three key works, I argue that their music invites comparison with, and subsequently refines, such ideas. Both composers’ clear rejection of postmodernist thinking constitutes more than a negational counter-movement (to borrow Mahnkopf’s term), for they each regenerate ‘classical’ modernist mannerisms while exhibiting anti-modern tendencies through their tonality and expression. Resolving the paradox of this blend of anti- and retro-modernist principles is key to understanding their music and rethinking its critical place - an urgent task in an arena where ‘retrogressive’ is more often than not a deadly slur. As such, I also trace the inheritance of Taylor and Fribbins to the previous fin de siècle, comparing pertinent modernist theories and pronouncements then (e.g. Ferruccio Busoni) and since (e.g. Robin Holloway, Hans Werner Henze) with their re-emergence today. To test, and to contest, the claims staked for neomodernism against the music of Taylor and Fribbins is to add an important chapter to our understanding of British contemporary music.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 19331
Depositing User: Dr Chris Dromey
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2016 09:57
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 08:59

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