What Is American Music?  13341


  • 00:09:45 Everyone knows the music sounds American …
  • 00:10:30 Nationalistic music, inc African drums or Arabic chanting (note old-fashioned semi-intentional racism), Mazurka from Poland
  • 00:11:10 Unidentified Tarantella “This is a piece I learned when I was eleven. I still can’t play it very well.”
  • 00:14:30 Longevity of traditions in European countries. In America “what did our forefathers sing?” … points out different members of the orchestra with different ethnic origins. Then asks the audience.
  • 00:16:25 “don’t forget America’s a very new country”
  • 00:17:00 “Kindergarten period of American music” = George Chadwick
  • 00:18:55 Dvorak pointing out that they should use their own music; “Indian” / Native American music, but this is not “our” music. Also mentions “Negro” folk music. But Symphony doesn’t sound American, sounds Czech.
  • 00:23:00 “Grammar school period” = Edward MacDowell
  • 00:23:50 “High school”, WWI already over = birth of jazz. Foxtrot in 1920s. Alexander’s Ragtime Band is something everyone knows how to sing.
  • 00:34:00 Audience trying clapping steady rhythm, without the percussionists’ syncopated Charleston rhythms throwing them off. Then the other way round.
  • 00:38:44 History of horn calls, from Eroica to Morton Gould


Full script at the Leonard Bernstein website.


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