The Spirit of the Age: Composers Responding to Historical Influences

The Spirit of the Age: Composers Responding to Historical Influences explores some important questions in relation to Canadian composers and their place in the twentieth century. John Weinzweig, Michael Colgrass, Oskar Morawetz, Barbara Pentland, André Prévost, and Claude Vivier lived through and were affected by momentous times. In their music we find the influence of the Holocaust, post-World War II Communist oppression, the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and the Kennedys, civil rights protests, the rise of Black Power, the suppression of Czechoslovakian democracy, anti-homophobia, global pollution issues and more.

Canadian composers often reflect the spirit of their own age in their music. This learning collection illustrates the techniques and approaches composers use to respond to their own times.

The Spirit of the Age: Composers Responding to Historical Influences begins with a series of listening exercises, each of which focuses on a strategy used by a composer to introduce the real world into the world of music. Make a Composer Strategy Chart of these techniques, and others, as you explore this theme.

The Spirit of the Age: Composers Responding to Historical Influences is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • Learn about the strategies composers use to create music about the real world.
  • Consider the role of music as a way both to celebrate the achievements of the times and to reflect upon its darker realities.
  • Make a personal connection with issues of social justice or great human achievements, and use some of the strategies they have learned to composer music about our own era.
Virtual Museum of Canada

To access the Virtual Museum of Canada's complete digital learning resources and lesson plans, visit the VMC Teachers' Centre.