European Composers of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: Correlations between Biographical Spots and Compositional Strategies

Dragana Stojanović-Novičić

Typology: Lecture, Seminar

This course addresses to MA and PhD students

The aim of this course is to establish a connection between some crucial biographical moments of the composer’s life and the direction of his compositional strategy at that time. Sometimes the social turbulences basically changed the context of composer’s life: Olivier Messian, for instance, was imprisoned in the concentration camp during the WW II. However, that was the time when he wrote his influential Quartet for the End of Time.  Igor Stravinsky felt that he couldn’t live in a stormy atmosphere of Russia in the dawn of communism. But the act of leaving the country intensified his efforts to implement elements of Russian folklore into his musical creations. The survey will include 20th- and 21st-century European composers of several nations – from Russia, Hungary, France, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia: Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varèse, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti, Aleksandar Obradović, Vinko Globokar, Rajko Maksimović.

Structure of the course:

  1. Igor Stravinsky in Switzerland – References to Russia
  2. Béla Bartók: Longing for Home – Hungarian Folklore across the Ocean
  3. Why did Varèse choose USA?, or: France was not enough
  4. Olivier Messiaen in War Camp: Music behind Bars
  5. Iannis Xenakis and the Question of Freedom: Escape from Greece
  6. György Ligeti: The West after East – Encounter with Electronics
  7. Aleksandar Obradović, Rajko Maksimović: Looking for Electronic Equipment (from Eastern Europe to Western Europe and USA)
  8. Vinko Globokar: from Miner’s Family to French Elite


  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: Vinko Globokar: Musical Odyssey of an Emigrant. Belgrade: Faculty of Music in Belgrade and Signatures, 2013. (in Serbian)
  • Olivier Messiaen: The Centenary Papers, Edited by Judith Crispin. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010.
  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: “Work of Edgard Varèse and ‘Futurist Music’: Affinities (and Differences).” New Sound: International Magazine for Music, No. 34, 2009, pp. 50-61. (Translated by Goran Kapetanović)
  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: “Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001): Some Thoughts on His Creative Output.” Musical Culture & Memory: The Eighth International Conference, Editors: Tatjana Marković and Vesna Mikić. Belgrade: Faculty of Music, Signature, 2008, pp. 263-270. (Translated by Jelena Nikezić)
  • Joseph Horowitz: Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.
  • Robert Sherlaw Johnson: Messiaen. London, New York, Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo: Omnibus Press, 2008.
  • Christopher Dingle: The Life of Messiaen. Cambridge, UK, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
  • Edgard Varèse: Composer – Sound Sculptor – Visionary. A Publication of the Paul Sacher Foundation, Edited by Felix Meyer and Heidy Zimmermann. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2006.
  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: “A Cry from the Trombone: Vinko Globokar will be discussed”. IV International Symposium ‘Music and Society’, Sarajevo, October 28-30, 2004 – Collection of Papers, Editors Tamara Karača M.sci., Senad Kazić M.sci. Sarajevo: Musicological Society of the FBiH, Academy of Music in Sarajevo, 2005, pp. 90-96. (Translated by Jelena Nikezić)
  • Peter Hill & Nigel Simeone: Messiaen. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Griffiths, Paul: The Penguin Companion to Classical Music. New York: Penguin Books, 2005.
  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: “Vinko Globokar… Medium.” Music & Media: Sixth International Symposium Folklore–Music–Work of Art, Belgrade, 14th – 17th November 2002, Editors of the Collection of Papers Vesna Mikić, Ph.D., Tatjana Marković, Ph.D. Belgrade: Faculty of Music in Belgrade, 2004, pp. 49-57. (Translated by Jelena Nikezić)
  • Dragana Stojanović-Novičić: “Creation as Genesis: Tradition and Originality in the Works of Iannis Xenakis.” Man and Music: International Symposium Belgrade, June 20-23, 2001 – To Professor Dr. Dragoslav Dević 75 years of life and 50 years of professional activities, Editor Dr. Dimitrije O. Golemović. Belgrade: Vedes, 2003, pp. 432-442. (Translated by Miloš Zatkalik)
  • Richard Steinitz: György Ligeti: The Music of Imagination. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003.
  • Alan Clayson: Edgard Varèse. London: Sanctuary, 2002.
  • Richard Toop: György Ligeti. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1999.
  • Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music: Expanded Edition, Edited by Elliott Schwartz and Barney Childs. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998.
  • Robert P. Morgan: Twentieth-Century Music: A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America. New York and London: W. W. Norton Company, 1991.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • understand the key dimension of the emerging power of cultural and artistic European integration;
  • identify and describe the major issues on musical biographies in the historical context;
  • discuss and outline the main issues such as “Europeanization” and transformative power of music.
  1st acad. year: 2nd acad. year: 3rd acad. year: Total over 3 years:
N° of hours 15 15 15 45
N° of students 40 40 40 120
Discipline of


Musicology,  Music Performance
Year/type of study 2nd cycle (Masters) Doctoral studies
Nature Compulsory New