Music Of The Great Depression

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Prior to the stock market crash of 1929 American music still possessed a distinct tendency towards elitism, as songwriters and composers sought to avoid the mass appeal that critics scorned. During the Depression, however, radio came to dominate the other musical media of the time, and a new era of truly popular music was born. Under the guidance of the great Duke Ellington and a number of other talented and charismatic performers, swing music unified the public consciousness like no other musical form before or since. At the same time the enduring legacies of Woody Guthrie in folk, Aaron Copeland in classical, and George and Ira Gershwin on Broadway stand as a testament to the great diversity of tastes and interests that subsisted throughout the Great Depression, and play a part still in our lives today. The lives of these and many other great musicians come alive in this insightful study of the works, artists, and circumstances that contributed to making and performing the music that helped America through one of its most difficult times.

The American History through Music series examines the many different styles of music that have played a significant part in our nation's history. While volumes in this series show the multifaceted roles of music in our culture, they also use music as a lens through which readers may study American social history. The authors present in-depth analysis of American musical genres, significant musicians, technological innovations, and the many connections between music and the realms of art, politics, and daily life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Comprising brief accounts of nearly every aspect of music in the 1930s, this encyclopedic survey covers popular, folk, and classical music; regional, national, and ethnic styles; and composers, performers, producers, and media….[t]his will be a handy supplementary resource for coursework in music and American studies. Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; general readers."



"[A] comprehensive and extensively researched test which covers every facet of American music during the 1930s. There are few scholarly texts which present the topic in such detail … [The] book not only builds on this scholarship but also allows a more rounded view of the era to coem to light… [A]n extremely useful reference book for the researcher. ^IMusic of the Great Depression^R is an invaluable resource for graduate students and non-specialist academics who wish to April, 1actual awareness of the era."


Journal of American Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313332302
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Series: American History through Music
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 1,036,299
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM H. YOUNG is a freelance writer and independent scholar. He recently retired from teaching English, American Studies, and popular culture at Lynchburg College in Virginia, where he taught for 36 years. Young has published books and articles on various subjects of popular culture, including the recent Greenwood volume, The 1950s, with his wife Nancy.

NANCY K. YOUNG is an adjunct professor for the Counselor Education Program in the School of Education and Human Development at Lynchburg College.

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Table of Contents

1 Music and media : radio, sheet music, and recordings 1
2 Popular hits and standards 33
3 Music from Broadway and Hollywood 67
4 The rise of swing and the triumph of the big bands 117
5 Roots music 145
6 The classical tradition and the Federal Music Project 171
7 Outstanding musical artists from the 1930s 199
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