United States Music

The beginnings

The first musical manifestations in the USA were closely connected to the events of the colonizers of New England: for a long time Puritanism rejected any form of musical performance and the first public concert took place only in 1731 in Boston, while in Charleston, in 1755, there was an isolated attempt at an American play, Flora or hob in the well. Among the composers of this period there are F. Hopkinson (1737-1791) and W. Billings (1746-1800). To the political and military events of the 18th and 19th centuries. the creation of some patriotic songs such as the current national anthem Star-spangled banner (1814) was still linked.

The nineteenth century

During the 19th century. various musical institutions were formed and many musicians flocked from Europe. The first work by an American author to be represented (excluding the few attempts of the 18th century) was Leonora (1845) by WH Fry (1813-1864). An interesting composer, open to the most diverse experiences, was LM Gottschalk (1829-1869), author of many pages inspired by African American and Latin American music. From the second half of the 19th century. the country began to encourage the recovery of the national musical heritage, while naturally developing more and more knowledge of European music. Many composers of this period were in fact linked by training to the musical tradition of the Old Continent. Among these, in particular: JC Dunn Parker (1838-1916) and JK Payne (1839-1906). Rich in original ideas was the production, mainly piano, by E. Mac Dowell (1860-1908). Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the theatrical genre of the musical was established, which would have had great fortune in the following century.

The twentieth century

Among the composers who came to fame in the first half of the 20th century. the most interesting personalities were C. Ives (who used the musical heritage of the American popular tradition in an original way), E. Varèse (among the pioneers of electronic music), A. Copland and, above all, G. Gersh; win, whose production was characterized by a happy union between jazz, popular music and a very personal interpretation of European symphonism. On the path of research aimed at experimenting with new means of expression, various composers addressed themselves in the post-war period, including J. Cage, the most authoritative leader of the American avant-garde. Starting from the 1960s, however, the current of musical minimalism established itself, whose leading exponents were T. Riley (b. 1935), S. Reich and P. Glass. A special place goes to L. Bernstein, author of ballets and musical comedies of the highest quality. Other avant-garde composers are also worth mentioning such as L. Foss (b. 1922), M. Feldman (1926-1987). ● Of capital importance for the evolution of American music have been the symphony orchestras (the most famous are the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic, the Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia Symphony) and musical schools such as Juillard and Eastman, the Curtis Institute, as well as the universities of Michigan, Indiana and Massachusetts. ● Alongside the ‘cultured’ production, US music of the twentieth century has also found authentic national artistic expression in the various genres of African American music (above all jazz) and in the various ways in which folkloric traditions, urbanizing, have given rise to the pop music.

United States Music

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