This introductory chapter is an overview of Christian Wolff's music and how it tends to defy academic analysis. In an academic musical culture such things must be easily systematized and categorized, Wolff's music constantly defies attempts at arriving at neat analyses of his work. If Wolff has a method of composing it is to overturn methods from piece to piece. The constancy is change—often radical change even in the vocabulary of a single work. The restlessness of his imagination prevents him from settling into a Wolff “style,” or clearly recognizable idiom—except that he favors epigrammatic utterances, even blunt statements, though often as gentle as spare. The chapter also delves briefly into Wolff's life and career, highlighting and debunking the perceived contrasts between Wolff the man and his artistry.
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