An American Music

An American Music : The Search for an American Musical Identity

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For most of our histoy, Americans have felt a deep-seated inferiority in the face of European high art, and most patriotic Americans have believed a complete break from European influence was required in order to develop a distinctive and distinguished American music. Barbara Tischler takes the opposite position: this country's concert music composers did not succeed in writing music that was respected here and abroad until they involved themselves in the international movement to free music from its nineteenth-century Romantic constraints. Tischler writes, "If American composers have come of age in the twentieth century, as indeed they have, they have done so not as self-conscious Americanists who shunned the European musical models that had so long dominated the cultural Welt in this country but as activists in the international search for new music by the 1920s." This book is a fascinating portrait of American concert music and how it has evolved into the major cultural force that it is today. Among the subjects Tischler treats are the failure of American composers to provide the proper celebratory music for such occasions as the 1876 Centennial or the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago or the Panama Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco in 1915; the hostility to German culture during World War I, when middle class audiences in many cities willingly gave up at least some of their Beethoven and submitted to Wagner arias sung in English; and the success of a younger generation of composers, led by Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Roger Sessions, trained in modernism and using such American sources as jazz and folk music, in creating an indigenous American music. The book's final section deals with the sources of support that such composers sought: the government (especially in the 1930's), Hollywood (from the 1930s on), and involvement in university faculties.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 225 pages
  • 162.05 x 241.3 x 22.61mm | 594.2g
  • OXFORD UNIV PR
  • English
  • 0195040236
  • 9780195040234