Deceptive Cadence From NPR Classical

Leonard Bernstein's Age of Anxiety symphony is as unconventional as its creator. Courtesy of Library of Congress hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Library of Congress

An incredible roster of musicians gathered at Carnegie Hall in 2009 to play Terry Riley's epic 'In C' — with the complete, but only single-page, score projected overhead. Julien Jourdes/courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archive hide caption

itoggle caption Julien Jourdes/courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archive

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The AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at the Washington Monument in October 1992. The AIDS crisis is the subject of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, "Of Rage And Remembrance." AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Composer Marc Blitzstein (left) with Leonard Bernstein studying the score of a Blitzstein work during a 1947 recording session. W. Eugene Smith/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image hide caption

itoggle caption W. Eugene Smith/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Charles Ives, better known as an insurance executive in his time, wrote innovative symphonies incorporating American folk and hymn tunes. Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Corbis

David Robertson, a passionate champion of new music, conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on tour in Berlin. Dilip Vishwanat/St. Louis Symphony hide caption

itoggle caption Dilip Vishwanat/St. Louis Symphony

George Walker is considered the elder statesman of today's African-American composers. Gregory Walker/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Gregory Walker/Courtesy of the artist

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts is still inspired by the age-old symphonic form. Andrew Shapter hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew Shapter

Robert Spano, music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, conducts the Aspen Chamber Symphony. He is a fan of the Third Symphony by Aaron Copland. /Alex Irvin hide caption

itoggle caption /Alex Irvin

New York-based composer Mohammed Fairouz. Samantha West/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Samantha West/Courtesy of the artist

San Juan Bautista Mission in California, the inspiration for Kevin Puts' Symphony No. 4. Wikimedia hide caption

itoggle caption Wikimedia

Some of the 200 guitarists who took part in Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival in August 2009. YouTube hide caption

itoggle caption YouTube

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have been consistent champions of American music of all shapes and sizes. Are there — or will there be — American symphonies that stand with those of Mozart and Beethoven, Mahler and Shostakovich? Bill Swerbenski/San Francisco Symphony hide caption

itoggle caption Bill Swerbenski/San Francisco Symphony