Rodney Lister and David Toub have given me their personal answers to my question What pieces from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s have changed the way composers think about composing? which I appreciate greatly, since I didn’t know several of the works they referenced, and will now enjoy tracking them down.

But therein lay my difficulty in answering Radvilovich’s question: my immediate response was completely personal, and he was looking for broader cultural significance. So here’s another approach to the same question. I’ve come up with a short list of works from the 1970s that had an immediate and far-reaching impact on compositional styles. Mind you, these aren’t necessarily pieces that had an impact on me, or even pieces that I particularly like. But a significant number of composers rethought their paths after these pieces were first performed, or at least borrowed heavily from them, either technically or stylistically.

George Crumb: Voice of the Whale
George Rochberg: String Quartet No. 3
Steve Reich: Drumming
David del Tredici: Final Alice
Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach
Joseph Schwantner: Aftertones of Infinity

Any arguments with this list? What have I left out? Please let me know: it’s easy to overlook things, or take things for granted that somehow seemed too obvious. And I’m happy to add to this list, if appropriate.

Next I will attempt a list for the 1980s, although I expect to have a harder time with that one.

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