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In earlier periods in the history of music the past was either forgotten or else was present as a living, unconsciously handed-down tradition that was not specially thought about. It was only the increasing historical awareness in the eighteenth century, and particularly in the nineteenth, that enabled composers for the first time to forge links with the styles and practices of works that had been forgotten, while at the same time creating contemporary music with a historical subtext. Not by chance, these developments in composition coincided with the upsurge of historical awareness in concert life.
The formation and widening of a repertory that includes earlier works in their due place is a process that has continued to the present; the first half of the twentieth century saw at the same time the evolution of new forms of engagement by composers with the past. The present study is concerned solely with such historical references. It does not embrace other forms of engagement that introduced folksong into modern music as a reflection of popular culture; even if the tunes that are evoked, quoted, and put to new uses have ancient origins, it is not in such instances a matter of music from the past, but rather of music that is felt to be still alive today. My first concern is with developing general characteristics of neoclassicism, particularly in connection with Stravinsky. Next I shall investigate the relationship to neoclassicism of those works whose titles end with the suffix ‘-ana’ or ‘-iana’ (a form of ‘rewriting’ primarily represented in Italy).
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