Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II

Overview

What role did music play in the United States during World War II? How did composers reconcile the demands of their country and their art as America mobilized both militarily and culturally for war?

Annegret Fauser explores these and many other questions in the first in-depth study of American concert music during World War II. While Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, and the Andrew Sisters entertained civilians at home and G.I.s abroad with swing and boogie-woogie, Fauser shows it ...

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Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II

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Overview

What role did music play in the United States during World War II? How did composers reconcile the demands of their country and their art as America mobilized both militarily and culturally for war?

Annegret Fauser explores these and many other questions in the first in-depth study of American concert music during World War II. While Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, and the Andrew Sisters entertained civilians at home and G.I.s abroad with swing and boogie-woogie, Fauser shows it was classical music that truly distinguished musical life in the wartime United States. Classical music in 1940s America had a ubiquitous cultural presence—whether as an instrument of propaganda or a means of entertainment, recuperation, and uplift—that is hard to imagine today, and Fauser suggests that no other war enlisted culture in general and music in particular so consciously and unequivocally as World War II. Indeed, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Group Theatre director Harold Clurman wrote to his cousin, Aaron Copland: "So you're back in N.Y. . . ready to defend your country in her hour of need with lectures, books, symphonies!" Copland was in fact involved in propaganda missions of the Office of War Information, as were Marc Blitzstein, Elliott Carter, Henry Cowell, Roy Harris, and Colin McPhee. It is the works of these musical greats—as well as many other American and exiled European composers who put their talents to patriotic purposes—that form the core of Fauser's enlightening account.

Drawing on music history, aesthetics, reception history, and cultural history, Sounds of War recreates the remarkable sonic landscape of the World War II era and offers fresh insight to the role of music during wartime.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Clear and well-researched, [this book draws] on a great many archival sources... Recommended." —Choice

"[B]oth eminently readable and grounded in an astounding amount of archival research...highly recommended." —Journal of Cold War Studies

"Annegret Fauser has devoted the recent phases of her distinguished career to exploring how circumstances of cultural contact affect the making of music. . . . Her new book, Sounds of War: Music in the United States during World War II, extends this broadly contextual approach into the American orbit. It is a major contribution to the field." — Music and Letters

"...Eminently readable and grounded in an astounding amount of archival research. It is recommended to cultural historians and musicians alike." — Journal of Cold War Studies

" [A] formidable book. It presents itself already as a benchmark not only for research about music during World War II but also for work on all music during all wars. . . . Fauser's book presents a point of reference as much for questions of methodology as for its empirical contributions, and not only for the history of the United States." — Transposition: Musique et Sciences Sociales

"Annegret Fauser looks beyond the commonplace memories of swing and Sinatra, touching on the mainstream embrace of classical music by way of addressing her main theme: the employment of "serious" composers and musicians in the war effort." — Milwaukee Express

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199948031
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/21/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Annegret Fauser is Professor of Music and Adjunct Professor of Women's Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is author of Musical Encounters at the 1889 Paris World's Fair and co-editor of Music, Theater and Cultural Transfer: Paris 1813-1914.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
Chapter 1: "We, as Musicians, are Soldiers, too..."
Musicians in Uniform
Performing for Victory
Composition in the War Effort
Cultural Mediators and Educators
Chapter 2: "Shaping Music for Total War"
Music in the Service of Propaganda: The Office of War Information
Crossing Borders: Music, Diplomacy, and the State Department
The Singing Army: Uplift and Education for a Nation
Music Therapy and the "Reconditioning" of Soldiers
Chapter 3: "I Hear America Singing..."
Sounds of a Usable Past
Salutes to American Folk Song
Voicing Opera in America
Chapter 4: "The Great Invasion"
Exile Experiences
French Connections, Czech Identities
Refugees from Axis Nations
Chapter 5: "Hail Muse Americana!"
Commemoration and Patriotic Celebration
Celebrating the American Way
New World Symphonies
Works Cited

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