The After Dinner Scholar

20th Century Music: Sounds that Kill, Sounds that Give Life, and No Sounds at All by Dr. Stanley Grove

April 28, 2020

“You can kill people with sound," noted Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Then he went on, “And if you can kill, then maybe there is also the sound that is opposite of killing. And the distance between these two points is very big. And you are free—you can choose.” 

This is, perhaps an apt commentary on mid-20th century classical music. In this lecture to Wyoming Catholic College juniors, Dr. Stanley Grove discusses the musical works of Pärt as well as John Cage and Krzysztof Penderecki. Sounds that kill, sounds that bring life, and in the case of John Cage’s “4:33,” no sounds at all.