Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity

By Alan Howard Levy | Go to book overview

were legitimate sources of inspiration, but American materials, which Gottschalk had used so freely, smacked of the social genres which the nation's social and musical elite had transcended.

After Gottschalk the concern for technical proficiency led American composers into certain German traditions. As these traditions developed and took root in America, compositional and pedagogical norms emerged which the sensibilities and money of the nation's social leadership reinforced. The elite of American music became a reflection of the tastes of the social elite at large. But just as there were challenges to that broader socioeconomic leadership in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, so too did grumblings from the music world emerge and seriously alter American music between 1890 and 1920.


NOTES
1.
Aaron Copland, Music and Imagination, Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Harvard University 1951- 1952 ( New York: Mentor, 1952), p. 108.
2.
John Sullivan Dwight, Dwight's Journal of Music, January 9, 1875, p. 8.
3.
Quoted in George Willis Cooke, John Sullivan Dwight: Brook Farmer, Educator, Critic of Music ( Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1973), p. 67.
4.
Cincinnati Commercial, May 18, 1880, p. 6.
5.
New York Sun, April 4, 1870, p. 11.
7.
Boston Gazette, November 22, 1880, p. 10.
8.
Ibid., and New York Sun, April 4, 1870, p. 11.
9.
Henry T. Finck, Musical Progress ( New York: Harper and Brothers, 1923). p. 78.
10.
Such a theory smacks of "status anxiety," a greatly overused theory which historians have tried to apply to many controversial social groups. Perhaps the most probing analysis of this theory is that of Robert Berkhofer, who wrote that the status anxiety theory works only if the particular person or group in question looks exclusively to the past and suggests no new course of action ( A Behavioral Approach to Historical Analysis [ New York: Free Press, 1969], pp. 70-72). This effectively negates well-known applications of the theory to populists, to progressives, or to other reformers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. But among the music critics, and the elites they represented, who apotheosized Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms, the theory fits better.
11.
R. D. Skyrum, "Oberlin Conservatory, A Century of Musical

-12-

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Musical Nationalism: American Composers' Search for Identity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - The German Orthodoxy 3
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Americanism and French Impressionism 14
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Paris and Neoclassicism 30
  • Notes 60
  • 4 - Expatriates, Frivolous and Serious: George Antheil and Virgil Thomson 62
  • Notes 82
  • 5 - Roy Harris and Strident Americanism 86
  • Notes 103
  • 6 - A Nice Jewish Boy from Brooklyn 105
  • Notes 125
  • CODA 128
  • Notes 137
  • ESSAY ON SOURCES 139
  • Index 161
  • About the Author 169
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