MUSIC IN AMERICA
It's a complex fate, being an American, and one of the responsibilities it entails is fighting against a superstitious veneration of Europe. HENRY JAMES
What was happening to music in the United States in these rich years of the early twentieth century? Was anything produced comparable to Le Sacre or Pierrot Lunaire? The answer is an unqualified no, for the lack of a musical environment such as that enjoyed by Berlin, Paris, or Vienna, with their great opera houses, orchestras, and well- established conservatories, made the creation of musical masterpieces in the United States virtually impossible. If a genius had been born in our Midwest in the 1870's and if he had spent all of his formative years there, think what his musical experiences would have been in comparison with Debussy's or Schoenberg's! What would he have heard of Wagner or Moussorgsky? It is not surprising that the United States did not make strong contributions to music in these years, for great works of art do not appear spontaneously in a barren atmosphere.
This is not to say, however, that there was no musical activity at all. A few of our larger communities had orchestras, conservatories, and opera houses, but in most cases these were but pale copies of European organizations. Since