Percussionists back in Beethoven's day could be forgiven for feeling a little bored, waiting for the infrequent roll of the kettledrum or the occasional cymbal crash. But as orchestras grew bigger, percussionists got busier — even more so after World War I, when a new generation of composers began writing specifically for percussion.
Composers like John Cage and Edgard Varèse expanded musical horizons for percussionists and others, like Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Boulez, followed their lead. The music, whether for soloist or ensemble, moved percussion into the spotlight and helped set standards for performance practice.
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