From its dissonant musics to its surrealist spectacles (the urinal is a violin!), Modernist art often seems to give more frustration than pleasure to its audience. In this text Daniel Albright shows that this perception arises partly because we usually consider each art form in isolation, even though many of the most important artistic experiments of the Modernists were collaborations involving several media - Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" is a ballet, Gertrude Stein's "Four Saints in Three Acts" is an opera, and Pablo Picasso turned his cubist paintings into costumes for "Parade". Focusing on collaborations with a musical component, Albright views these works as either figures of dissonance that try to retain the distinctness of their various media (e.g. Guillaume Apollinaire's "Les Mamelles de Tiresias") or figures of consonance that try to lose themselves in some total effect (such as Arnold Schoenberg's "Erwartung"). In so doing he offers a fresh picture of Modernism, and provides a model for the analysis of all artistic collaborations.
Daniel Albright is a professor of English and American Literature at Harvard University. He is the author of "Modernism and Music: An Anthology of Sources," also published by the University of Chicago Press.