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Musical dynasties, so common a phenomenon of the past, are relatively rare in our own times; but the Tcherepnin family boast four generations of composers, encompassing a wide variety of styles and diversity of language. The 18th-century ‘dynast’ flourished in a community strongly bound to tradition, in a climate where styles were slow to change. Musical horizons were circumscribed by narrower geographical limits and a shorter historical perspective. The young composer knew less music of the past, and his relationship with what he knew was therefore closer. In the 20th century, however, the advent of mass media has altered all that. The successful young composer can hear music of his own and other cultures in a profusion undreamed of by his fathers, and he can explore a far more remote past, for musicology has developed into an industry, pushing back the frontiers ever further.