Unlike most lengthy texts, this one gets better as it progresses, drawing complex themes and a huge cast into a single...

CLASSICAL MUSIC IN AMERICA

A HISTORY OF ITS RISE AND FALL

Opinionated, stimulating account of how classical music failed to establish fruitful roots in America, from orchestral administrator and historian Horowitz (Wagner Nights, 1994, etc.).

In his view, the critics, administrators, and patrons who shaped the development of “serious” music in the US made two fundamental errors: they preferred Europeans to native composers, and they favored masterpieces of the past over performances of contemporary classical works. These choices were not inevitable, Horowitz argues; in the 19th century, differing attitudes in the nation’s two premiere cultural centers epitomized two potential paths. While Boston critic John Sullivan Dwight disdained “all need of catering to low tastes” and devoted himself to promoting “only composers of unquestioned excellence,” New York–based conductor Theodore Thomas aspired “to make good music popular” through concerts including light music as well as such then-contemporary artists as Wagner, Berlioz, and Dvorák. (The last of whom was an enthusiastic admirer of African-American and other native musical strains.) Sympathetically yet critically assessing American composers ranging from George Chadwick and Louis Moreau Gottschalk to Steve Reich and John Adams, the author sees them generally swamped by the “culture of performance” that arose in the early 20th century and still dominates US conservatories and concert halls. Toscanini conducting Beethoven wowed the middlebrows, while Stokowski was controversial both for championing new music and for shaking hands with Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Despite the pioneering efforts of Jeannette Thurber, who promoted opera sung in English and American musical training for American composers, and the determined popularizing of Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitsky (founder of Tanglewood) and his flamboyant protégé Leonard Bernstein, classical music in the US remained the high-art preserve of the cognoscenti, to the detriment of its vitality and growth. Shrewd analyses of the role played by little-known managers like Arthur Judson and NBC founder David Sarnoff illuminate the commercial aspects of this unedifying tale.

Unlike most lengthy texts, this one gets better as it progresses, drawing complex themes and a huge cast into a single overarching vision of a cultural attitude that has produced many fine artists and striking moments—but no institutional or intellectual support to sustain them.

Pub Date: March 14, 2005

ISBN: 0-393-05717-8

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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

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IN MY PLACE

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

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