Charles Seeger: A Life in American Music


"The life of Charles Seeger (1886-1979) - composer, teacher, performer, musicologist, bureaucrat, inventor - spanned ninety-two years and touched many areas of American music. Almost every modern musician has been affected by some aspect of Seeger's life and work. Seeger was both a traditionalist and an insistent champion of the new. After embracing music at Harvard, despite his family's wishes, he established the University of California's music department and the nation's first curriculum in musicology. He taught at the Institute of Musical Arts (later Juilliard) and at the New School in New York, where he was a founder and leader of the Composers' Collective and (under a pseudonym) wrote music reviews for the Daily Worker. During his years in Washington at the Resettlement Administration, the WPA, and the Pan American Union, Seeger defended the artistic value of folk music and strove for global cooperation in musical enterprises. A pioneer ethnomusicologist, he invented the melograph, a device for capturing the nuances of non-notated music, and helped to launch a number of professional musical societies in the United States and abroad. Two of Seeger's wives were gifted musicians: the violinist Constance Edson and the composer Ruth Crawford, the first American woman to receive a Guggenheim award for the study of music. Three of his children - Peter, Michael, and Peggy - have established international reputations in the field of folk music. This first biography of Charles Seeger describes the boundless energy and creative undertakings of an astonishingly versatile figure. Drawing on Seeger's own writings as he explored his social and musical world, Ann Pescatello vividly portrays the experience of a pivotal figure in modern American culture. Musicologists, music educators, and all concerned with twentieth-century American life will be rewarded by this insightful study." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Pittsburgh, PA
Publication year:
  • 1992


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