United States Music: Influences and Evolution

United States Music - Influences and Evolution

The musical landscape of the United States presents itself as an articulated and complex set of native and imported cultures. The native layer includes a huge variety of expressions, grouped into three broad areas: the great southern Oregon basin, the California tribes and the yuma group, and finally the prairie and pueblo group tribes. Popular music imported to the United States was first introduced there by settlers of Spanish origin (Catholic missions in California) and Anglo-Saxon (English, Scottish, Irish, German) origin. Subsequently, the influx of immigrants from all over the world brought all kinds of popular musical traditions to the United States: from Slavic and Jewish to Scandinavian ones, from Italian to Greek, up to the recent massive influx of musical cultures.

Asian countries (Arab countries, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indochina, China, Japan, Philippines). All these folkloric layers have remained mostly isolated from each other, or have mingled with the only great musical glue in the United States: black music. L’ musical activity of the first American settlers of the east coast was limited to the singing of psalms. Beyond the environmental difficulties, on the modest development of cultured music in the century. XVII influenced the rigorist disposition of the Puritans towards this art, considered sensual and sinful. The fixation of the psalmodic repertoire took place in the century. XVIII through a series of printed works (notable in particular the collection The New England Psalm Singer by W. Billings published in 1770) which closed a passionate period of controversy on the more correct textual and interpretative tradition of this liturgical repertoire. A much more open disposition towards music was shown by the leaders of the Anglican church, who favored the composition and performance of organ, choral and symphonic-choral works: notable in this area was the work of authors such as W. Selby, organist at King’s chapel in Boston, and W. Tuckey, the choirmaster of Trinity Church in New York and sponsor of the first performance of Messiah by GF Handel in American land (1770). Likewise, colonies of German pietists, Swedish Reformed and Moravian settlers held music high. To the sec. XVIII date the first stable concert institutions (Boston, 1731; Charleston, South Carolina, 1732; New York, 1736; Philadelphia, 1757 etc.), whose repertoire soon came to rival, for the choice of programs and the executive level, with the most advanced European institutions. In the same period, a type of high-level amateur music spread, especially among the upper class, which gave its best in chamber compositions for instruments and above all for voice.

According to thesciencetutor, the first American composer, F. Hopkinson, belongs to this circle (1737-1791). However, the possibility of an autonomous development of American music, free from the immediate stylistic dependencies of contemporary European experiences, was strongly conditioned by the massive invasion of European professionals, performers and composers, which followed the war of independence. Among the most prominent personalities of this period, decisive for the entire future of the musical history of the United States, are B. Carr, A. Reinagle, J. Hewitt, R. Taylor, G. Graupner, also L. Mason (1792- 1872) and O. Shaw (1779-1848), both among the founders of the country’s musical educational system in different respects. The latter made reference from the beginning to European and in particular German experiences; in fact, Germanic Romanticism provided the linguistic basis of the music of American art in the century XIX and for part of the century. XX; isolated remained composers whose poetics aimed at enhancing elements taken from a local tradition, such as A. Ph. Heinrich (1781-1861), WH Fry (1813-1864), GF Bristow (1825-1898) and others. Much more widespread was the work of LM Gottschalk (1829-1869), brilliant piano virtuoso and the greatest composer of American romanticism, or composers of academic tradition such as J. Knowles Paine (1839-1906), A. Foote (1853-1937)), F. Converse (1871-1940), DG Mason (1873-1953). Paine was also the spiritual father of the most eminent group of composers of Germanic ancestry, the so-called Boston or New England School, which included, in addition to the aforementioned Foote, GW Chadwick (1854-1931), H. Parker (1863- 1919), A. Whiting (1861-1936), ES Kelley (1857-1944) and others. Contemporary to the Boston School was the activity of one of the most gifted American composers of the turn of the century, E. MacDowell (1861-1908), author of valuable piano and symphonic pages.

United States Music - Influences and Evolution