Jacques-Louis Monod

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Jacques-Louis Monod (born February 25, 1927) is an influential French-born, American domiciled composer, pianist and conductor of 20th century and contemporary music, particularly in the advancement of uptown music in New York City.

Jacques-Louis Monod in 2009.


Paris 1940s: early years under Messiaen and Leibowitz[edit]

Monod was born in Asnières (now Asnières-sur-Seine), a northwestern suburb of Paris, to an affluent family of privilege and of French Protestant affiliation. Early indications of his musical prowess came when he enrolled in 1933 at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique as a child prodigy at the age of six, under the official minimum age of nine. Monod would attend the Paris Conservatoire intermittently but remain registered for nearly 20 years, obtaining his Doctorat from the Paris Conservatoire in 1952. Monod's teachers at the Conservatoire were Yves Nat and Olivier Messiaen; including master classes under the visiting conductor, Herbert Von Karajan; he also studied with his godfather, Paul-Silva Hérard, the organist at Paris's St. Ambroise Church.

Although impressed by Messiaen's technical prowess as a teacher of the Classical repertoire; Monod did not accept Messiaen's vision of the New Music, imbued with Catholic mysticism combined with a tinge of Orientalism. Yet it would be in Messiaen's classes on harmony and analysis where Monod would encounter the many composers who would eventually comprise the New Music movement in post-WWII Europe, including Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

A decisive turning point for Monod occurred in 1944 and at the age of 17, when he took private lessons in composition and theory for five years, subsequently remaining a lifelong supporter and president of an association promoting the music of the French composer and conductor René Leibowitz, an Webern disciple and émigré from Warsaw, Poland (rumor has it that during the German occupation of France, which lasted until December 1944, the young Monod surreptitiously brought food to Leibowitz, a member of the French Resistance). Leibowitz, who was an outsider among the French musical establishment, and a major catalyst in the promotion of Schoenberg's music and in the subsequent development of serial music in Paris after WWII, became Monod’s principal teacher and mentor within a circle of devoted pupils, including Jean Prodromidès, Antoine Duhamel, Pierre Chan, Michel Philippot, Serge Nigg, André Casanova, Claude Helffer, and for a brief period, Pierre Boulez.

Monod's oeuvre is historically significant among the early cadre of post-WWII proponents of the New Modernism in Paris (ca. 1945–51), promoting initially the music of Schoenberg and later, the serial music of Webern. Interest in Schoenberg's music had seen a steady growth in Paris, beginning with the work and teachings of the Polish-French vocalist Marya Freund, who premiered Pierrot Lunaire to French audiences in 1927, followed by Schoenberg's brief emigration to Paris in 1933, before departing for America during the same year. The Schoenberg pupils Max Deutsch and Erich Itor Kahn also relocated to France during the early 1930s, where Deutsch subsequently taught at the Sorbonne for the next 40 years. Schoenberg's music—considered "radical" for a brief period in France after WWII—was soon regarded as outmoded by the early 1950s and superseded by that of his pupil, Webern. Yet it would be Schoenberg—an autodidact from humble origins, possessing an extraordinary combination of sharp intellect with creative energy and the self-proclaimed leader from fin-de-siècle Vienna of the New Music—who conveyed a mesmerizing, almost overpowering persona to those who were smitten by his music and teachings, and who would ultimately alter the course of twentieth-century music through his particular invention of the "method of twelve-tone composition" and promotion by his many disciples, such as R. Leibowitz, J. Rufer, T.W. Adorno, E. Stein and J. Cage; and earlier, A. Webern and A. Berg. And during the course of new music developments from France after WWII, Monod would not abandon Schoenberg's music throughout his long career—as many in the French avant-garde had under Boulez's direction, as exemplified in his polemical 1951 article, "Schoenberg is Dead" and in his subsequent influence upon the development of "experimental" serialist and related music at Darmstadt. Monod's debut (1949) as a pianist took place in Paris at a concert organized by Leibowitz for Schoenberg's 75th birthday. His performance in the European premiere of Schoenberg's Phantasy for Violin and Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47, missed being the world premiere by only a few hours (the world premiere took place in Los Angeles on September 13, 1949, with Leonard Stein on piano and Adolf Koldofsky on violin).

New York City 1950s: pianist and the Dial recordings[edit]

Soon after Leibowitz’s earliest travels to the United States (first in 1947 to visit Schoenberg in Los Angeles), Monod followed, accompanying Leibowitz to New York City in 1950. Whereas, the noted pianist Charles Rosen claims to have heard Monod perform Milton Babbitt's The Widow's Lament in Springtime as early as 1945 or 1946 at Princeton (Rosen 1976, p. 37)—and yet the work was not composed until 1951.

At a time when the musics of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern were least performed in America, Monod was among their earliest champions. He spent much of the 1950s as a pianist, performing works of the Second Viennese School for piano and voice, similar to the careers of pianists E. Steuermann; P. Stadlen; C. Helffer; Paul Jacobs; the Viennese pianist, Karl Steiner; and the American pianist, L. Stein. Under the direction of Leibowitz, Monod performed and recorded the piano part of Berg's Chamber Concerto and Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte, Op. 41; and more importantly, Monod also performed on historic recordings of chamber music by Webern for the Dial Records label in the early 1950s (a label founded by Ross Russell, who also produced historic jazz recordings of Charlie Parker, Max Roach and Miles Davis), including the earliest recordings of Webern's Symphony, Op. 21, conducted by Leibowitz with the Paris Chamber Orchestra; the Concerto for nine instruments, Op. 24; the Variations for Piano, Op. 27, performed by Monod; the Four Songs, Op. 12, performed by the American virtuosic soprano Bethany Beardslee with Monod on piano; and the Quartet for tenor saxophone, clarinet, violin, and piano, Op. 22.

On Dec. 18, 1950, Monod performed in a special concert of Alban Berg's chamber music at Juilliard, featuring the American premiere of Berg's Two Songs (unedited extract from Die Musik 1930) with Ms. Beardslee. The duo also performed Berg's Seven Early Songs (1905–08) and Four Songs, Op. 2 (1908–10).

Monod also promoted other musics in addition to the music of the Second Viennese School: on January 24, 1954, The Three Japanese Lyrics, composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1912–13, received their Carnegie Hall premiere in Carnegie Recital Hall (now Weill Recital Hall) with Ms. Beardslee, soprano; the pianist Russell Sherman; and a chamber ensemble conducted by Monod. Also evident during Monod's residency in the USA was his extraordinary analytical ability: while attending a Columbia graduate 20th-century-music seminar taught by the Varèse disciple Chou Wen-chung, Monod's cogent analysis of Varèse's Ionisation led to his teaching the remainder of the course. Monod's studies at Columbia University during the 1950s would eventually lead by the early 1970s to an Associate Professorship position at Columbia's music department, wherein Monod with the former Schoenberg pupil and specialist in medieval music theory, P. Carpenter, were instrumental in establishing the department's undergraduate and graduate core curricula.

New York City 1950s: conductor of Webern and New York serialism[edit]

Beginning in the early 1950s, Monod directed American premieres of many works of Anton Webern, assisting Richard Franko Goldman (of Goldman Band notoriety) in directing the first all-Webern concert in the USA, which took place in New York City on May 8, 1951, and included the world premiere of Webern’s Five Canons on Latin Texts (Moldenhauer and Moldenhauer 1975, p. 713). Under the direct influence of Webern's American students (e.g. Mark Brunswick, Arnold Elston, Roland Leich and George Robert) and several of Webern's disciples who emigrated to America (e.g., Ernst Krenek, Frederick Deutsch-Dorian and in particular, Stefan Wolpe) and the development of American composers who adopted serial techniques in their music, such as Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter, followed by older American composers, Roger Sessions and Aaron Copland, including the Russian émigré Igor Stravinsky, who attributed his "discovery" of serial music to analyses of Webern's music (under the influence of Robert Craft); Monod's performances of Webern's music in New York City during the early 1950s were a part of the growing movement in America among the music intelligentsia that ultimately recognized Webern as the "Apostle" of the New Music—concurrent to the Webern movement in Darmstadt, whose music was promoted by Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, and others. Notwithstanding, Webern's influence had cut a wide spectrum in contemporary American music during the 1950s, including "uptown" music in New York City from the Columbia and Princeton establishments as well as the so-called, "downtown" New York School, e.g. Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Christian Wolff—under the influence of a former Webern pupil, Stefan Wolpe, upon the music of Feldman. This included Cage's role in influencing Wolff's earliest music, which are closer to Webern's music than Cage's.[citation needed] On March 16, 1952, Monod gave the world premieres of Webern's Three Traditional Rhymes, Op. 17, and the Three Songs on Poems of Hildegard Jone, Op. 25, all with his then wife, Ms. Beardslee, with whom for years, they gave critically acclaimed concerts of new music with the Camera Concerts under Monod's directorship (Moldenhauer and Moldenhauer 1975, pp. 713, 717). Further, Monod was instrumental in promoting in America the music of the relatively unknown composer Erich Itor Kahn; and a composer whose music is similar to Monod's, the Webern disciple Leopold Spinner, whose Fünf Lieder for voice and piano, op. 8, was premiered by Monod and Ms. Beardslee on March 15, 1954. Also beginning in 1952, Monod took over the editorial position led by the former Webern pupil Kurt List for the publishing firm Boelke-Bomart, founded by W. Boelke.[citation needed]

Hermann Scherchen (with an introduction by Pierre Boulez) premiered Edgard Varèse’s Déserts in Paris on January 20, 1954; while Monod gave its American premiere at Town Hall in December 1955, with Varèse controlling the Ampex tape recorder. In 1956, Monod received an Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his creative work in music.

London 1960s: the BBC and the British serial movement[edit]

Many of Schoenberg's and Webern's disciples had relocated to Great Britain during the 1930s as a result of the rise of National Socialism (e.g., E. Wellesz, E. Stein. W. Goehr, R. Gerhard, T. W. Adorno, K. Rankl, L. Spinner, E. Kraus, E. Spira, etc.). Webern also visited England twice to conduct at the BBC.[citation needed] Their influence upon British music did not take full effect until the 1950s and 1960s.[citation needed] Influential proponents of serialism in Great Britain were the composers Humphrey Searle, L. Spinner, Roberto Gerhard and the presence of Luigi Nono at the Dartington summer courses during the 1960s. Also influential was the British journal The Score with many articles pertaining to serialism. Notable were essays written by the one-time Webern pupil, the pianist and musicologist Peter Stadlen. During the height of serialism in Great Britain in the 1960s and under the influence of Sir William Glock and Hans Keller, Monod relocated to London and was appointed conductor of contemporary music for the BBC Third Programme from 1960 to 1966–67, directing dozens of premieres, including works by Roberto Gerhard, Peter Maxwell Davies, Ernst Krenek, Luigi Dallapiccola, and L. Nono, whom he befriended during Monod’s London premiere of Nono’s, Polifonica-Monodica-Ritmica.[citation needed] Further, "during his seven years as the conductor for the BBC Third Program, he [i.e. Monod] presented a live concert broadcast of new music every Tuesday throughout the concert season. Each program was different and was broadcast internationally to a wide listening audience...[Monod] has conducted major orchestras and chamber ensembles in Europe, Scandinavia, and North and Central America" (Equinox Music CD 0101 Liner Notes). A notable performance took place on Tuesday evening, December 21, 1965 with Monod conducting the British premiere of Kurt Weill's school opera composed in 1930, Der Jasager, based on a libretto by Bertolt Brecht and after a Japanese Noh-play, as reported by David Drew (1965). Also included was Monod's 1962 and 1963 world premieres of Roberto Gerhard's, Concert for Eight with the Melos Ensemble and Hymnody with the Virtuoso Ensemble, respectively; and his 1963 performance/recording of Gerhard's film music for Lindsay Anderson's critically acclaimed, This Sporting Life, a British New Wave film.[citation needed]

Monod also directed contemporary music with notable ensembles in London and Zurich during the 1960s to early 1970s: in 1962, Monod directed and recorded for Epic Records, Elliot Carter's Suite from Pocahontus with the Zurich Radio Symphony Orchestra (N.B., it was in Zurich where Monod befriended the Schoenberg disciple and conductor Erich Schmid).[citation needed] On November 19, 1964, Monod conducted a concert of Austrian music at the Commonwealth Institute with Margaret Kitchin on piano, the Leonardo Wind Quintet and the London Octet.[citation needed] On October 25, 1965, Monod conducted the first London performance of Gordon Crosse's Symphonies for chamber orchestra with Susan Bradshaw on piano and the Macnaghten Chamber Orchestra.[citation needed] Further, his interpretation of Seymour Shifrin's Three Pieces for Orchestra with the London Sinfonietta received the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, Inc. Award in 1970 for best recording.[citation needed] Also notable in Monod's career as a conductor were his superior coaching skills: his performance (1962, recording issued in 1966) of Schoenberg's Serenade, Op. 24 with the Melos Ensemble was the first time the pianist and Schoenberg amanuensis-editor Leonard Stein had encountered Monod's masterly interpretations of Schoenberg's music.[citation needed] Monod's work as a conductor follows the line of distinguished directors of the music of Schoenberg and the new music (e.g., A. Webern, H. Scherchen, H. Swarowsky, H. Rosbaud, R. Leibowitz, W. Goehr, E. Schmid, C. Abbado, M. Gielen, et al.).[citation needed]

New York City 1970s–1990s: the Guild of Composers and music from uptown[edit]

In 1975 he founded, and for 20 years served as president of the Guild of Composers, a New York-based group that produced concerts of "uptown" contemporary music. At the Guild of Composers concerts, which often took place at Columbia University's Miller Theater, performances included the music of Elliott Carter, Arthur Berger, Claudio Spies, Mario Davidovsky, Seymour Shifrin, Earl Kim, Donald Martino, George Edwards, Robert Helps, David Lewin; and Milton Babbitt, who composed an earlier work, Du, dedicated to Monod and Ms. Beardslee. During 1995–2000, concerts of the Guild of Composers were directed by the Monod protégé, the Princeton- and Columbia-educated American composer and conductor, Daniel Plante.

New York City during the 1960s through the 1980s played host to numerous concerts and "happenings" devoted to contemporary music: the development of a "downtown" contemporary music scene during the 1960s and mid-1970s, for instance, may have been a reaction to and/or caused by "uptown" contemporary music promulgated at the Juilliard School in Lincoln Center—which remains to this day a beacon of European-derived, "high-art" music—and primarily at Columbia University by concerts of the Guild of Composers; and earlier, by The Group for Contemporary Music concerts, directed from 1961 to the 1970s by two former Columbia students, Charles Wuorinen and Harvey Sollberger. Columbia's renowned music department, characterized by a tendency to promote modern music from its earliest years under the influence of the Paris Conservatoire-educated American composer Edward MacDowell—and which much later had invited composers as diverse as Bartók and Varèse during the 1940s and 1950s—was dominated during much of the 1970s and 1980s by Columbia- and Princeton-educated composers and theorists who shared a strong bias toward the European-derived, historically deterministic theories of Schoenberg—which composers from the downtown music scene opposed, developing instead a multicultural, improvisatory, and pop-influenced music also influenced by the indeterminate music of John Cage, who paradoxically was a former pupil of Schoenberg's, and by the New York School of American experimental music.

Monod was a major proponent in New York City of "non-experimental" serialism, promoting the music of American composers from the so-called Columbia-Princeton "axis" (and to a lesser degree from Harvard) at the Guild of Composers concerts. The music performed for 25 years at the Guild of Composers concerts exemplified the ideological view that contemporary American music remains very much a part of the Western polyphonic tradition. Further, Boulez's provocative work as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center during 1971–77 also contributed to the public's increased awareness of concerts devoted to contemporary music, albeit with a much wider palette of works.

Throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, Monod also continued to perform the music of Schoenberg in New York City, leading the music critic Allan Kozinn to write an article published in the New York Times (March 1985) acknowledging Monod as the "Guardian of the Schoenberg Flame," wherein Monod is quoted to have stated the following concerning his conducting demands:

Roughly speaking, my experience has proved that you need at least one hour of rehearsal for every minute of music. Less than that, and you cannot do justice to the piece. You also need good players - ideally, I prefer musicians who have worked together, and who have worked with me before. I have a very short fuse when I have to waste time on elementary things. And if possible, I like to use my own marked scores and parts. I'm talking about an ethical approach to performing, and the conditions that justify the performance of a work. If someone asks me to conduct, but cannot give me the conditions I need, well, it's very easy for me to live without conducting.

His promotion of Schoenberg include a notable performance in the early 1980s of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21, with commentary by George Perle.


List of compositions (1952–80)[edit]

Monod's music is published by the Jerona Music Corporation.

A partial list of Monod's compositions include works from the series, Cantus Contra Cantum:

  • Cantus Contra Cantum I (1968/1980) for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
  • Cantus Contra Cantum II (1973) for Violin and Cello
  • Cantus Contra Cantum III (1976) for Chorus (a Piano reduction exists)
  • Cantus Contra Cantum IV (Tränen des Vaterlandes—Anno 1636) (1978) for Mixed Chorus and Sackbuts or Trombones
  • Cantus Contra Cantum V for Orchestra
  • Cantus Contra Cantum VI for Mixed Choir and Chamber Orchestra
  • 2 Elegies (1978) (incl. Canonic Vocalise, 1978)
  • Chamber Aria (1952) (or the Passacaglia)

Style and ideology[edit]

There are three phases of development in Monod's oeuvre: first, his initial education in Paris during the 1930s and 1940s, bearing distinctively French influences and characteristics as to his role in the origins of serialism in France (e.g., extensive training at the Paris Conservatoire, including studies under Messiaen and later, private studies under Leibowitz); followed by his relocation abroad during the 1950s and 1960s to NYC and London as a pianist and conductor of the New Music, with the advancement of music by composers of non-French origins, particularly American music (e.g., C. Ives, E. Carter, M. Babbitt and S. Shifrin) and the music of Schoenberg, Webern and the serial movement (e.g., A. Berg, A. Webern, R. Gerhard, E. I. Kahn, L. Spinner, E. Krenek, L. Nono, et al.), including the music of a fellow émigré, Varèse; and thirdly, his own musical legacy as a composer and pedagogue at music schools in the Northeast during the 1970s and 1980s, primarily at Columbia University and at the Guild of Composers concerts with the advancement of a post-Schoenbergian generation of "non-experimental" polyphonic music by American composers—many who were directly associated with Monod.

Throughout his distinguished career as a conductor, pianist, composer, theorist/editor and pedagogue, there appears to be a deliberate effort by Monod to avoid the transient nature in much of contemporary music, evidently propelled by the post-WWII avant-garde credo of experimentation to create and promote music that tended to overemphasize 'novelty', often accompanied by media hype. Notwithstanding, Monod's performances of world premieres of works by European and American composers for forty years during the 1950s–1990s demonstrate his commitment exclusively to promoting and advancing contemporary music. Although Monod was keenly aware of the speculative excessiveness in contemporary music trends during the 1950s–1980s, he has remained strategically opposed to many of his former colleagues from France for instance, who embraced avant-gardism in Paris and at Darmstadt under the influence of Boulez, et al. Further, the music at Darmstadt can be directly attributed to the legacy of Schoenberg (and more so to Webern)—since many of their disciples taught at Darmstadt; whereas, Monod has promoted the musics of Schoenberg, Webern and many others from a purely musical and more specialized "plateau"; demonstrating instead, a critical perspective with an agenda emphasizing 'pitch-centric' or polyphonic implications in modern music. Ironically, Monod has become an increasingly solitary figure in advancing the cause of contemporary music, based upon the seemingly anachronistic, Western ideological premise of "progress". Nonetheless and unswerving throughout the passage of time, Monod has remained steadfast in his views regarding the significance of Western polyphony and its central role in the grand debate on the future of contemporary music; i.e., whether the new music will emphasize the "emancipation of sound" or the "primacy" of pitch-relations.

Cantus Contra Cantum and advanced polyphony[edit]

Monod’s music is based upon historical precedents of Webern’s music and represents the French school of post-WWII serialism, combined with subtle lyricism. Among his early works, only the Chamber Aria (or the Passacaglia) from 1952 has been published. His doctoral dissertation, i.e. a second doctorate, was completed with distinction at Columbia in 1975 and assisted by the Princeton- and Columbia educated pianist-composer Thomas S. James, consisting of a detailed exposition on the compositional premise of his seminal work, Cantus Contra Cantum II for Violin and Cello: music which represents a tour de force in rhythmic and serial complexity. It is dedicated to the violinist Rose Mary Harbison, wife of the composer John Harbison.

Monod's music has been performed sparingly and has yet to be fully recognized. As in the music of Webern, there are no extraneous musical elements nor is there any degree of fortuitousness in Monod's rigorously composed music, which gives the discerning listener a means to distinguish musical relationships with aesthetically compelling results. The strict formal characteristics of his non-experimental and non-improvisational, highly controlled music requires superior technical abilities on the part of performers. Also noticeable in Monod's music is the apparent avoidance of strictly adhered row permutations, as originally advocated by Schoenberg. Moreover, the overly-mechanical and superficial aspects exhibited in some earlier works of integral or total serialism are entirely absent and circumvented in Monod's music; which as a result, provides listeners with lyrical attributes. Monod has set many of his works to texts by French poets, such as Eluard, Valéry, Renard and René Char (Steinberg 2001).

The title for his extensive cycle of serial compositions composed during the course of the past forty years, namely "Cantus Contra Cantum", refers to the late-medieval concept of "line against line" as a progression beyond "punctus contra punctum", i.e., creating advanced music that is correlated to the development of modern Western polyphony: "music-synergy", wherein the interaction of two or more parts or voices in each work creates a combined effect that is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

In 1979, the ISCM in New York City performed his Cantus Contra Cantum I for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra, the first of a series of works that realizes Monod's advancement of a polyphonic "langue". Other than his editorial work, Monod has written sparingly on his own works and music of other composers. The few available writings by Monod are liner notes from a 2010 New World Records reissue (NWCRL358) of a 1972 recording of his "Cantus Contra Cantum I":

There is unfortunately very little a composer can do to assist the non-professional listener toward an understanding of his work, for a transliteration of his creative statement will be in the best of circumstances a tautology. Further, it may obscure the interaction between the author's and the listener's aesthetic proclivities by dissociating the work from that perceptual level, where the listener experiences the discipline's long standing association with the cultural context. Thus, I will agree with Naum Gabo 'that a work of art restricted to what the artist has put in it is only part of itself,' and that 'it only attains full stature with what people and time make of it.' (Horizon 10, no. 53, July 1944)

For both the non-professional and professional listener, understanding will begin with and depend upon the intensity of intuitive perception and the desire for a significant aesthetic experience that transcends the measurable assets of a given discipline. “Together with the apprehension of concepts and the acquisition of information, professional understanding will achieve cultural significance through the eventual enrichment of a compositional technique that will serve a broader aesthetic responsibility than that of an ideology which relegates aesthetic consideration to that of a surface event.” (NWLCRL358)

More recent performances took place in New York City during February 1987 and in March 1989 of his provocative, "Tränen des Vaterlandes—Anno 1636" (Cantus Contra Cantum IV), a four-minute choral work accompanied by "sackbuts", based upon "a gruesome poetic depiction of carnage and devastation by Andreas Gryphius...[the music is] stark but appropriate for the horrors described" (Rockwell 1989); and his two a capella works, Elergies, evoking "the ghost of Anton Webern...music as exquisitely beautiful as any this listener has heard in some time" (Page 1987).

Monod and the dialectics of contemporary music in America[edit]

The beginning of the end[edit]

It remains to be determined whether the influence of Monod will have long-standing ramifications in the development of contemporary American music in the new millennium. The situation today is pessimistic.[citation needed] The current ebbs and flows of American music for example, seem mired in a mixture of appealing to mass consumer interests as well as to the comparatively few who are aware or interested in the contemporary music promoted by Monod, et al. during the past 50+ years. As more orchestras and ensembles are finding it difficult to economically sustain their contemporary music objectives, the future also appears uncertain as to whether modern music will survive in America as an artistic genre without having the financial resources of an interested public. Another difficult assessment pertains to whether the specific "non-experimental" music promoted by Babbitt, Monod, et al. will have lasting significance in supporting the cause for contemporary music performance practice in America, without sacrificing artistic standards in lieu of artistic compromise, which presumably is the premise of the above-mentioned artists and their work.[citation needed] Monod's own music has yet to be fully assessed in view of the avant-garde and modernist music of his contemporaries, such as the works of Boulez and Babbitt, respectively. Certainly, the complexity of his music as well as our times make the task all the more difficult, given the challenge of what it means to attribute Monod's uncompromising persona and exemplary musical legacy as specifically being that of a "modern classicist". Nonetheless, the "non-experimental" music promoted by Monod in America following Schoenberg's death could be viewed as part of a "post-Schoenbergian" generation of music by modern polyphonists. Further, the various conflicting forces and/or 'differences' in contemporary American music today represent a 'crossroads' for Western music that may be better understood from a dialectical perspective.[citation needed]

The end of the classical[edit]

If on the other hand, popular music and related popular culture in America continue to grow among the general public, the effects of the economic system would render the appeal toward contemporary "serious" music for limited tastes only, and within more limited budgets and more elite conditions for performance practice, thereby alienating further the general public from acquiring access, and from having any understanding of and appreciation for contemporary "serious" music. Their interest and support, if any, for serious music-making would be doubtful. The current socio-economic conditions in America for instance, indicate that contemporary "serious" music persists to a limited extent through isolated instances of independent recordings made and issued, and in the few academic institutions that are staffed with qualified instructors, from a diminishing list of uncompromising composers and their few supporters, committed conductors, and the few capable performers. There are few indications in American culture today that performances of contemporary "serious" music has had any measurable effect upon improving or educating the public's awareness level.[citation needed]

The "late European period", Schoenberg and the future of American music[edit]

Other important issues relate to the overriding concerns of Monod's legacy, namely the future of the Western polyphonic tradition in America, since demographic shifts in America with the development of non-Western musical forms influencing the public, have generated a considerable amount of interest and support today for a multi-cultural agenda with multi-cultural perspectives toward creating music, creating new art and in teaching.[citation needed] Notwithstanding, the Western polyphonic tradition constitutes a specific musical repertory and substantial theoretical discourse that entail hundreds of years of musical development in integrating linear and vertical pitch relationships—the relatively recent advent of non-Western musical influences in 20th-century Western music and performance practice with mutually exclusive compositional criteria, will undoubtedly effect Western music's continual development in America—presumably inhibitive. That there are "cross-over" effects and relations in contemporary American music with both Western and non-Western compositional elements are at best a musical compromise, since American composers who have advocated and have applied non-Western compositional criteria in their music have yet to contribute to the underlying tenets of advancing polyphony, as this may not have been their aesthetic intentions nor interests.[citation needed] Thus the apparent dichotomy and position taken that "non-experimental" and "experimental" serial music have little in common—other than their common source of origin (i.e., Schoenberg-Webern)—may be tenable, since the avant-garde music of the experimental serialists has generated a multitude of various styles (e.g., chance, aleatoric, minimalism, free-jazz, etc.), each having little to do with the music that has been promulgated by Monod et al. in the Western polyphonic tradition.[citation needed] Further, the American experimental tradition in music is more likely to develop into two related but distinct movements of indigenous American musical culture—one containing the more academically influenced repertory with various musical and multi-cultural influences; and the other, consisting of music with an iconoclastic "downtown" aesthetic—each development having less in common musically with its European-derived influences (N.B.: it may be interesting to note that Monod's editorial work include one of America's earliest 'experimental' and academically trained composers, namely the music of Charles Ives).

Moreover, to state that the development of Western polyphonic music has been the result of a largely "Euro-centric" activity is inaccurate, since the history of modern Western music during the 20th century for example, has been very much a "multi-cultural" creation, if taking into consideration that creating and promoting Western music has been a widely-practiced activity and international in scope; and is therefore by definition a multi-cultural phenomenon, albeit derived from European sources.[citation needed] To a certain extent, the advanced polyphonic music and legacy of Schoenberg has left an indelible mark in the history of mid- to late-20th-century contemporary music in America, as a result of major promoters on the "Americanization" of Schoenberg, such as the work by Monod, et al.[citation needed] Well-endowed orchestras and ensembles in America will also continue to include the music of Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School in their repertory.[citation needed] However, if the overarching concern is whether there would be a role and future for 'new' American "serious" music (e.g., music that is polyphonic and European-derived) promoted by the likes of Monod and others, their influence may appear less over time, as this genre of music may be relegated to the larger category of non-correlated musical genres, including non-Western musical forms and practices in contemporary American music; while the influence of a solely Western and more specifically, a European-derived, American "polyphonic" music, appear either gradually assimilated or ultimately ignored for the time being by the forces of American popular culture, the masses and of modern society.[citation needed] Contemporary American music may evolve into its own indigenous 'identity' or it may take generations before a renewal of interest occurs in America for serious contemporary music with European influences.[citation needed]

Theorist and editor of Schoenberg, Webern and Ives[edit]

During much of the 1970s, Monod taught courses in music theory and analysis to Columbia students with an original theory of tonality which has yet to be published.[citation needed]

Monod has also edited numerous works for publication at Mobart Music Publications/Boelke-Bomart, Inc. (now part of Jerona Music Corp.), where he was editor-in-chief for thirty years between 1952–1982.[citation needed] These scores include Charles Ives' Central Park in the Dark, Hallowe'en and The Pond; and Schoenberg's Kol nidre, Op. 39 and the Three Songs, Op. 48; and two works that are arguably among Schoenberg's greatest works from his late period, namely the String Trio, Op. 45, and A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46; and Webern's Quintet for Strings and Piano.

Monod's editions of Schoenberg's music have been described as the standard by which other [editions] are to be judged (Haimo 1984,[page needed]). In 1983, Monod edited and published at Mobart, "René Leibowitz 1913–1972. A Register of His Works and Writings".

Teacher at Columbia and Juilliard[edit]

During the summer of 1977, when Paris was all the rage for the newly designed Centre Georges Pompidou and IRCAM, Monod returned to Paris under the sponsorship of the Sterling Currier Fund to direct an advanced music composition seminar at Reid Hall. Students were primarily from Harvard and Columbia, including the Harvard-educated composer Christopher Yavelow, and a former composition pupil of Chou Wen-chung, Joel Freedman, et al. During the remainder of the late 1970s, Monod continued to teach at Columbia. In the early 1980s, Monod returned to France and taught theory and analysis at the Sorbonne, returning several times to New York City to conduct performances of modern music. Later during the 1990s, he returned to New York City, devoting the remainder of his years as a pedagogue at the Juilliard School, where he taught advanced theory and analysis, composition, and conducting.[citation needed] Over the years, Monod has also given private lessons to talented musicians, including those influenced by mathematics and the computer sciences: many occupy various professional positions in the USA and abroad in the areas of conducting, composition, and theory.

Although Monod's theoretical work and pedagogy primarily at Columbia have focused on the development of Western polyphony from the earliest examples of plainchant to J. S. Bach to Schoenberg, the music of his many former students (and those who were affiliated with Monod through his editorial work) represents a diverse array of genres, cultures, and styles, from contemporary "classical" music to electronic music and beyond. Among them are the composers Leonard Bogat, Jack Briece, Bruce Hobson, Robert Pollock, Joseph Hudson, Martin Matalon, Manuel Sosa, Dariush Dolat-shahi, Eve Beglarian, Charles Dodge, Eugene Lee, Conrad Pope, Thanassis Rikakis, Maurice Wright, Jeffrey Hall, Thomas S. James, Joel Feigin, Pablo Ortiz, Eric B. Chernov, Tod Machover, Mark Hagerty, Daniel Plante, Robin Berger, David Winkler, Eric Chasalow, Paul Phillips (conductor), Michael Rothkopf, Bernadette Speach, Alberto López, César Mateus, Philip Lasser, Kitty Brazelton, David Glaser, James Walsh, Meir Serrouya, Peter C. Clark, and Harold Bott, Jr. Monod also taught students who specialized in musicology, several becoming prominent, including Richard Taruskin at the University of California at Berkeley, David Bernstein at Mills College, Michael Beckerman at New York University, Clovis Lark at the Utah Symphony Orchestra, Sean Y. Wang at the University of Houston, and the composer-musicologist Otto Laske.[citation needed]

Monod has also taught conducting to many who have specialized in this profession, including Peter Schubert, Michael Alexander Willens, Gilbert Levine, Markand Thakar, Joel Eric Suben, Peter Frewen, Rachael Worby, David Leibowitz, Richard Fletcher, et al.

Association for the Promotion of New Music[edit]

In 1975, Monod established a new music publishing firm, the Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM), consisting of many works representative of the New York "uptown" movement and beyond. Notable works include the music of Eduard Steuermann, Roger Sessions, Edward T. Cone, Arthur Berger, Godfrey Winham, Will Ogdon, Ursula Mamlok, Rolv Yttrehus, George Edwards, Philip Batstone, Robert Ceely, Mark Hagerty, et al. Monod has also edited music for APNM, including Godfrey Winham's Composition for Orchestra and Stephen Peles' Intermezzo for solo piano.

Personal life and close associates[edit]

Monod was previously married to the soprano Bethany Beardslee; and later, to a translator of German descent, Margrit Auhagen.

His closest associates in America include the composers Earl Kim, Seymour Shifrin, Arthur Berger, Mario Davidovsky, Claudio Spies, and Malcolm Peyton; and in France, Michel Philippot.

Notable relatives[edit]

Monod is from one of the oldest families of the French (but of Swiss origin) Protestant bourgeoisie with a history since the Napoleonic Era of wide-ranging influences in French government, theology, the sciences and medicine, banking and the arts. His great-great-grandfather Adolphe Monod was a noted pastor and theologian. His father Pierre Monod was a noted surgeon. His cousins include the naturalist Théodore Monod; the industrialist-politician Jérôme Monod; Jacques Lucien Monod, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist; the pharmacologist Daniel Bovet, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine; and the French New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard.


  • Drew, David. 1965. [article]. The Musical Times 106, no. 1474 (December): 934–37.[full citation needed]
  • Haimo, Ethan. 1984. "Editing Schoenberg’s Twelve-tone Music". Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute 8, no. 2:141–57.
  • March. 1985.[full citation needed]
  • Moldenhauer, Hans, and Rosaleen Moldenhauer. 1975. Anton Von Webern: A Chronicle of His Life and Work. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Page, Tim, music critic, NYT: 2-5-87.[full citation needed].
  • Rockwell, John. 1989. New York Times (March 30).[full citation needed]
  • Rosen, Charles. 1976. "Homage to Milton". Perspectives of New Music 14, no. 2 / 15, no. 1 (Spring–Summer/Fall–Winter): 37-40.
  • Steinberg, Michael. 2001. "Monod, Jacques-Louis". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External links[edit]