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Chapter 17. The Search for an American Identity

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1 Chapter 17. The Search for an American Identity
Objective- To look at various ways in which America attempted to stake out its own identity in a cultivated art form that is fundamentally European.

2 When did the search for a distinct American music identity arguably begin?
- in the late nineteenth century - Antonin Dvorák Why might classical music be perceived to be the least representative form of American music? - the elite, aristocratic, Western European roots of classical music - American orchestras’ emphasis on the music of Western European composers

3 The Debate over Nationality
The debate over nationality was between the “nativist” view and its critics. “nativist” view: that there should evolve a distinctively American music, developing a life of its own not in the shadow of European tradition, together with an audience to appreciate and support such music an idealistic desire to express the national, the specific the belief that music should express this place and this time

4 critics’ view (a view that has been called “expatriate”):
a reverential attitude toward European masters (mainly Germanic) an idealistic dedication to the cosmopolitan, the universal the belief that music should transcend place and time

5 Music Education and Culture after the Mid-Nineteenth Century
What are some of the changes in the patterns of American life that occurred after the Civil War? westward expansion; movement of population building of more towns and cities new wealth advances in education and culture By 1900 symphony orchestras could be found in growing cities (besides New York and Boston). Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Los Angeles Who is considered the leading founder and conductor of the American symphony orchestra? Theodore Thomas ( )

6 Idealistic Promoters of a Native Music
1870s—Fisk Jubilee Singers and other groups presented a contrasting view of African American music and culture to that of the minstrel stage. 1880s—American Indian music was being collected and studied. 1880s—Harrigan and Hart presented plays on the popular musical stage that showed everyday characters in everyday situations. 1890s—ragtime arrived in the East from the Midwest. —Czech composer Antonin Dvorák was in America.

7 Arthur Farwell (1872-1952) strong advocate for new American music
1901--founder of a composers’ press: Wa-Wan Press Wa-Wan is an Omaha Indian ceremony of peace and brotherhood. published the work of thirty-six American composers (nine women) developed an American music more in touch with American life organized the New York Community Chorus Indian works in arrangements: Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas (1905) Three Indian Songs (1908) Original works based on Indian melodies: Navajo War Dance for piano (1905)

8 “Pawnee Horses” a concert work for solo piano inspired by an Omaha Indian melody. from a collection titled From Mesa and Plain (Wa-Wan Press 1905) Listen for rhythmic complexity of the main melody syncopations descending melodic line typical of American Indian melodies (see Ch. 3) narrow melodic range evoking the overall sound of an Indian chant

9 American Music and American Life
three composers who produced the “most quintessentially ‘American sounding’ classical music” George Gershwin (jazz) William Grant Still (blues) Aaron Copland (a Shaker hymn)

10 George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue (1924)
inspired by the increasingly popular jazz idiom 1924: established as a fixture in American classical music with his composition, Rhapsody in Blue Rhapsody in Blues, a jazz concerto for piano that was premiered in New York on February 12, 1924. Gershwin was soloist. Listen for jazzy solos (clarinet, trumpet, piano) improvisatory feel the extended passage for piano solo from about 1:10 (called a cadenza in classical music)

11 William Grant Still (1895-1978)
the first African American composer to have a work performed by a major symphony orchestra the first black composer to have an opera staged by a major company Still’s education in classical music exceeded Gershwin’s: Oberlin College New England Conservatory

12 third movement of the Afro-American Symphony, titled “Humor”
ragtime idiom banjo bluesy inflections What is European about this work? genre (symphony in four movements) third movement in a symphony: typically a dance movement

13 Aaron Copland (1900-1990) has been labeled "Dean of American music"
Born in Brooklyn, NY In his 20s he went to Paris; studied with Nadia Boulanger. influenced by jazz, cowboy songs, old Shaker melody, revivalist hymns, fiddle tunes 1930s ideology: art should serve the people How does Copland capture the sound of the Western Frontier?

14 Appalachian Spring (1944) Understand the synopsis of the story
choreographed and danced by Martha Graham ( ), seminal figure in modern dance in early 20th century concert suite of continuous sections later (1945) arr. by Copland

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