From Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise:
Born in 1862, the son of a shopkeeper turned civil servant, he studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he struggled for several years to write a cantata sufficiently dull to win the sinecure of the academically oriented Prix de Rome, He finally succeeded with The Prodigal Son.
Stravinsky ... There was a fling with Coco Chanel....
For Stravinsky, as for many other composers, technology became a new kind of folklore, another infusion of the real.
"Why tonality as such should be thrown out for good, I can't see," Ives once wrote. "Why it should always be present, I can't see."
... by shattering these trite associations into fragments, Ives draws closer to the source.
When Duke Elllington set about making his name, he went for advice to Will Marion Cook.... "I'd sing a melody in its simplest form," Ellington recalled, "and he'd stop me and say, "Reverse you figures..."
...there was an element of nature-mysticism to Webern's method. On a hiking trip in 1930 the composer wrote ecstatically of the experience of being lost in a snowstorm, of walking into a whiteness that was like a "completely undifferentiated screen."
...Ludwig Bauer could have been thinking of The Measures Taken when he lamented that political fanaticism on both the right and the left was devaluing the life of the individual. "The I is disappearing..."
Prokofiev had a gift for what .... Bakhtin called the "carnivalesque" - farce, parody, irresponsible merrymaking, mock grandeur.
"The modern composer must change from a parasite into a fighter."
There was a Communist cell within the Group Theatre, but most members understood the project to in largely aesthetic terms, as a corrective to the intellectual flight from society.
In 1935, through Goldbeck, he met Bertolt Brecht, who challenged him to "write a piece about all kinds of prostitution - the press, the church, the courts, the arts, the whole system."
"I was driven into Paradise"
..."Any composing strategy which is wholly 'rational' is irrational in the extreme."
(Stockhausen) took a particular interest in the semi-independent movement of jazz melodies, the way they floated above the beat in changing values.
he began to look at a orchestra the way a scientist looks at a gas cloud.
"Welcome to the Terrordome" is the Rites of Spring of black America.
When in 1999 (Boulez) was asked why so few major works of the fifties and sixties had become repertory pieces, he blandly relied, "Well, perhaps we did not take sufficiently into account the way music is perceived by the listener."