The Sounds of America in 20th Century Classical Music

As the United States was rising as an international superpower over the course of the 20th century, the world of classical music was exploding with innovative new styles and techniques the likes of which it had never seen before. This lecture will trace the interactions between these two historical phenomena to answer one question: how did the composers of the 20th century use modern musical language to reflect the sounds of America at that time? Through close listening and behind-the-scenes looks at musical creation, we will explore how Charles Ives expressed nostalgia by combining the sounds of the future with the sounds of the past; how Ruth Crawford Seeger and Kryzsztof Penderecki adapted new performance techniques to make statements in opposition to prejudice and war; and how Steve Reich harnessed musical technology to expose injustice.

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