Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity

Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity

Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity

Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity

Synopsis

"The growing pains the American art music community suffered during the search for a national musical identity, argues Levy, were largely the result of conflict between musicians of traditional Western European sensibilities and those who looked to indigenous vernacular sources.... Well conceived, well written, and well documented, and recommended for scholars and serious lay readers." -Library Journal

Excerpt

The art world of Paris in the twenties has been a rich source for the historian. What a brilliant array of people! But while much of this story has been told and retold, some important parts have been neglected, notably the activities of American composers. The neglect is doubtless due to the fact that the technical aspects of music are foreign to most historians. Indeed, music has generally, and unfortunately, been untouched by the cultural historian.

Several themes enter the story of American composers in Paris: the ways music did and did not fit into the general artistic activity of the Left Bank, the transmission of musical ideas from France to the United States and from the United States to France, the schooling Americans pursued in France, and the general interests of Americans in going to France. The last of these is the most complicated and inclusive. Like many who went to Paris, American musicians--Aaron Copland, George Antheil, Roy Harris, Roger Sessions, Virgil Thomson--disliked the stodgy old mores into which their country seemed to be relapsing after the Great War. Yet at the same time these Americans spoke of wanting to put America on the musical map, to see American music mature, and to come to grips with an American musical personality. This view, in contrast with the traditional expatriate disgust with America and the resulting anational or international approach to art, seems nationalistic. For American composers, nationalism and expatriation were not contradictory but complementary. The "old ways" of composing, the symphonic styles of Schumann and Brahms . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.