A richly detailed and freshly illuminating musical/political history.



For half a century, classical music reflected America’s identity on the world stage.

In a thoroughly researched and engrossing history, Rosenberg (Twentieth Century U.S. History/Hunter Coll. and CUNY Graduate Center; How Far the Promised Land?: World Affairs and the Civil Rights Movement From the First World War to Vietnam, 2005, etc.) reveals the surprising connection between classical music and world politics from the early 1900s until the end of the Cold War. During these years, classical music became imbued “with political and ideological meaning” that helped Americans “decide what was worth fighting for and why. It helped to illuminate the meaning of democracy, freedom, and patriotism” as well as “tyranny and oppression.” Because music seemed so potent a force, debate raged over which music and which performers should be heard in concert halls: Musical nationalists believed that certain composers, performers, or conductors could contaminate the nation and should be banned; musical universalists held that music transcended politics and “could speak to the hopes and dreams of all humanity.” The two positions became violently opposed during World War I, when “uncontrolled xenophobia and hypernationalism” focused on Germans. Concerts and contracts were canceled, two acclaimed maestros were imprisoned, and “The Star-Spangled Banner” became a requisite part of an orchestra’s repertoire. Americans, Rosenberg writes, “came to see Germans as demonic, whether they were fighting on a European battlefield or directing symphony orchestras.” By the next war, however, universalists prevailed, and the idea of “enemy music” disappeared, replaced by “the notion that classical music, German compositions included, could help vanquish malevolent regimes.” As Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitsky put it, “of all the arts, music is the most powerful medium against evil.” That sentiment continued during the Cold War, when the American government sent symphony orchestras and performers throughout the world “to display the fruits of liberal democracy to friend and foe.” Among the stars of that effort was New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein, who believed that classical music “might play a part in building a more compassionate and cooperative world.”

A richly detailed and freshly illuminating musical/political history.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-60842-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet