Like the histories of other arts in the U.S, the history of music is brief. Its necessary to state again that the people of early eras were practical people,busy with problem of survival and not receptive to artistic activity. Even after the U.S had acquired a national government and some degree of security, it was easier to use ready-made musical imports than to create a native product.
There was no important composer in the U.S before the 19th century. When talented composers finally did develop,they were unable to get adequate musical training in the U.S ; consequently the 1st composers spent many years in the musical center of Europe,where they acquired a natural admiration for European technique and European subject. The music of these 1st composers,therfore wasn’t characteristically Americans.
Later composers; Edward Mc Dowell, H.F Gilbert and C.W Cadman,looked for native themes in Indian music and Negros spirituals. Many other have found in jazz.
Since visitors from other countries know more about jazz than about other development in the U.S,little will be said here about this significant subject,except to mention the outstanding contribution of George Gershwin,who has transferred the values of jazz to “serious” music.
Prominent figures in musical history whose names are less familiar to visitors are Aaroon Copeland, Deems Taylor, Roy Harris and William Schuman.
Although many American enjoy imported operatic compositions,and although radio broadcasts of opera programs are popular,opera has never been a very successful form of indigenous musical expression in the U.S. Gershwin folk opera, “porgy and bess” is an outstanding exception. In the field of light opera,however there are many popular composers,like; Victor Herbert, Reginald De Koven, Sigmund Romberg, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin.
A few contemporary singers deserve special mention. Perhaps the most interesting are the Negros singers, Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Dorothy Maynor and Roland Hayes. The people in the U.S are still impressed by foreign names,and many native musical artists assume European names coz of the popular impression that imported musicians are best.
Although the U.S hasn’t yet reached musical maturity,there have been 2 important indications of growth during the 20th century; 1st the development of and emphasis upon music education in the public schools. 2nd the rise of the symphony orchestra.
During the past 15 years American educators have recognized the need for an increased appreciation of fine music. With the new leasure provided by industrialization,here is opportunity for aesthetic activity. The schools are therefore attempting to encourage musically talented students to develop their talents. Courses in vocal and instrumental music have become a significant part of the school curriculum; orchestras,band and choruses supervised by trained teachers are stimulating participation in musical activities. Moreover,music education isn’t confined to the talented. Students who lack the ability to participate in orchestras or choruses are abquiring a taste for fine music through courses music appreciation.
A 2nd indication of increasing interest in music is the rise of the symphony orchestra. Since 1842,when the Philharmonic Society of New York was established,the number of symphomy orchestras has increased to more than 50. These 50 include some of the finest instrumental organization in the world. The orchestras of 6 cities New York,Philadelphia,Boston,Chicago,Minneapolis and Cleveland are especially prominent,but even comparatively small cities have ambitious and capable symphony orchestras.