Conventionally, the story of musical modernism has been told in terms of a catastrophic break with the (tonal) past and the search for entirely new techniques and modes of expression suitable to a new age. The resulting notion of a single, linear, modernist mainstream (predicated on the basis of a Schoenbergian model of musical progress) has served to conceal a more subtle relationship between past and present. Increasingly, it is being recognized that there exist many modernisms and their various identities are forged from a continual renegotiation between past and present, between tradition(s) and the avant-garde. This is especially relevant when attempting to discuss the reception of modernism outside central Europe, where the adoption of (Germanic) avant-garde attitudes was often interpreted as being "unpatriotic". The case of Great Britain is examined in detail: Harrison Birtwistle’s opera The Mask of Orpheus (1973–83) forms the focus for a wider discussion of modernism within the context of late/post-modern thought.