Concepts of Time in Post-War European Music gives a historical and philosophical account of the discussions of the nature of time and music during the mid-twentieth century.

The nature of time was a persistent topic among composers in Paris and Darmstadt in the decades after World War II, one which influenced their musical practice and historical relevance. Based on the author’s specialized knowledge of the relevant philosophical discourses, this volume offers a balanced critique of these composers' attempts at philosophizing about time. Touching on familiar topics such as Adorno’s philosophy of music, the writings of Boulez and Stockhausen, and Messiaen’s theology, this volume uncovers specific relationships among varied intellectual traditions that have not previously been described.

Each chapter provides a philosophical explanation of specific problems that are relevant for interpreting the composer’s own essays or lectures, followed by a musical analysis of a piece of music which illustrates central theoretical concepts.

This is a valuable study for scholars and researchers of music theory, music history, and the philosophy of music.

chapter 1|6 pages


chapter 2|7 pages


Anton Webern, Concerto Op. 24, m. 38–40

chapter 3|19 pages

Duration and eternity

Messiaen’s time categories

chapter 4|8 pages


Olivier Messiaen, ‘Ile de Feu I’ from Quatre Études de rythme

chapter 5|19 pages


Boulez’s smooth time and its mathematical negotiations

chapter 6|9 pages


Pierre Boulez, Improvisations sur Mallarmé II— ‘Une dentelle s’abolit’

chapter 7|9 pages

The unity of time

Stockhausen’s engagement with acoustics

chapter 8|8 pages


Karlheinz Stockhausen, Zeitmaße

chapter 9|22 pages


Goeyvaerts and Adorno on musical stasis

chapter 10|11 pages


Karel Goeyvaerts, Sonata for two pianos, movements II–III

chapter 11|10 pages


Xenakis and the end of the discourse on musical time

chapter 12|6 pages


Iannis Xenakis, Nomos Alpha