Chapter 31: Interwar Currents: The

I. A. Introduction 1. During the first of the twentieth century, the most notable changes in — or at least those that had the largest impact on the greatest number of people—were in . 2. , which had been evolving for some time, became such an important style that the are called the “.” 3. The dissemination of popular music through electronic means was a chief spur in the growth of popular styles. 4. A largely improvised idiom, jazz’s origins came be found in several places: , the , and the call-and-response techniques associated with African American music. a. The opening of St. Louis Blues (1914) demonstrated these elements. b. Performed by and . c. The melodic delivery moves between pitches, some lower and some higher. These are blue notes.

B. European “Jazz”: Parisians in America 1. American jazz was also popular in , particularly France. a. Several influential jazz artists moved to France, including Sidney Bechet and . b. Composers such as Debussy acknowledged the new style in works such as “Golliwog’s Cakewalk,” which has elements of ragtime. Stravinsky also dabbled in ragtime. 2. Milhaud traveled to to hear jazz, and his La Création de monde (1923) uses a jazz band scoring. It blends different traditions in a neoclassical vein. 3. Ravel’s Sonata also includes aspects of jazz in its harmony, blues notes, and . a. His 1928 comments on jazz being a national heritage also reflect condescension for American music, likening jazz to folklore, suggesting that the music of a minority reflects the majority, and positioning Europe at the top of the music ladder.

C. In Search of the “Real” America: Americans in 1. During the 1920s, American composers sought to define an American style in . 2. Copland traveled to Paris to study and spent time under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger. a. Many other Americans followed his path to her. 3. Anti-German sentiments resulted after , and these also affected the American composers. a. There was a degree of appreciation for Americans in France at this time. 4. Boulanger took on American students and promoted the aesthetics of Stravinsky. (She had his approval to do so.) 5. Copland was drawn to jazz after hearing a performance in Vienna in 1923. 6. Copland struggled with his own voice initially.

a. His Symphony for Organ and Orchestra made him famous, but the response of the conductor Damrosch was not what the composer had wished. b. He then tried his hand at symphonic jazz in his Music for the Theatre (1925), dedicated to Koussevitzky, and then a concerto. 1) Reaction was mixed, but negative reviews demonstrate the negative racial associations jazz carried. 2) Further innuendos about Copland’s Jewish heritage, combined with the disdain shown for his jazz pieces, caused him to turn from specific associations with popular music.

D. and Musicals 1. Gershwin’s early life resembled Copland’s in several ways: both from Brooklyn, Jewish parents who had immigrated, study with Goldmark, musical careers that began in their teens. 2. Gershwin found work in his teens as a song-plugger and naturally began writing songs himself. 3. The songs played by song-pluggers belong to Tin Pan Alley, named for an area of music publishing in New York that sprang up in the 1890s. a. Many of the people who worked in Tin Pan Alley were Jewish. 4. Gershwin moved to Broadway not long after he started writing songs. a. At this time, musicals (indigenous ) were taking off in popularity. b. Leading composers were George M. Cohan and Irving . 5. Gershwin’s first big hit was Swanee, made popular by ’s 1920 recording. a. In the early 1920s, Gershwin wrote scores for Broadway musicals, and seventy- two pieces from them were published separately. 6. Rodgers and Hammerstein were a successful duo who wrote Broadway musicals beginning with Oklahoma! in 1942 and continuing to The Sound of Music in 1959. a. A later duo were Lerner and Loewe, who composed several successful musicals including My Fair Lady (1956).

E. Gershwin’s “Experiment in Modern Music” 1. In 1924 , a popular bandleader, requested that Gershwin compose a work for piano and dance orchestra, and suggested the term “rhapsody.” The result was . a. Whiteman’s arranger, Ferde Grofé, orchestrated the work for its premiere. b. The program touted that the Rhapsody in Blue was an “Experiment in Modern Music” in that it blended “discordant jazz” and the “really melodious music of today.” c. Rhapsody incorporates five Tin Pan Alley–type tunes with virtuoso passages for the soloist. 1) It can be interpreted as validating Dvořák’s prediction that American music would elevate by treating it as art music. d. The work was very popular. 2. Gershwin later wrote a Piano Concerto in F. 3. In 1933 he agreed to write an opera, , called an “American folk opera.” 4. Gershwin’s fusion of jazz and classical music was successful and appreciated, whereas that of Copland was not.

5. also sought to blend the two, but from the perspective of an African American jazz composer approaching classical music. 6. In the early he announced that he was writing a piece that would “portray the experiences of the coloured races in America in the syncopated idiom.” a. He does not use the word “jazz.” b. The work premiered in 1943 entitled Black, Brown and Beige. c. He told the story of African American music as an African American.

II. A. Surrealism: Satie’s Parade 1. American music grew in popularity throughout the 1920s and ’30s. 2. The divide between high and low music grew as well. 3. In 1917, the Ballet Russes performed Parade by Satie (and Cocteau). a. The work deliberately brings the theater experience to a lower level than audience members expected, as it is akin to a sideshow at a theater and features carnival performers. b. It was not favorably received, because the audience expected ballet to be “high” art. 4. Satie and Cocteau avoided any conventional attempts to astonish or impress, but rather celebrated normalcy. a. Realism (and antirealism) and tribute to the industry are aspects of Parade. b. Even though the score includes “ordinary” sounds, their use in such a work is far from ordinary. 5. Apollinaire noted the “clarity and simplicity” of Parade that elevated French music above German. a. He coined the term “surrealism” to describe this realistic work. 1) It essentially described a collage of ordinary things.

B. New Fashions: Les Six 1. A new group of composers who followed Satie were known as Les Six: Poulenc, Milhaud, Auric, Honegger, Tailleferre, and Durey. 2. Satie conceived of musique d’ameublement (furniture music), which is background music—not meant to be listened to. 3. figured prominently in their aims. 4. Five of Les Six collaborated in 1921 on a project with Cocteau: Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel. a. It is a scenario in which different images emerge from camera prop as part of a wedding party. A fat boy eventually massacres the party with ping-pong balls and feeds their banquet food to the Eiffel Tower. b. Impossible and ordinary events are brought together, as are everyday genres and surreal harmonies.

C. From Subject to Style: Surrealist “Classicism” 1. During World War II, Poulenc turned away from surrealism to more religious subject matter, but returned to it in 1944. 2. Milhaud’s surrealism relates to his theory of polytonality—a collage of keys.

a. He described this theory in 1923. b. Polytonality is diatonicism multiplied. c. He used this harmonic language in the Saudades do Brasil, a suite for piano that reflects urban popular music in Latin America. d. Taken apart, the elements are ordinary. It is in the placing together that the surrealism is present.

D. American Surrealism 1. Virgil Thomson represents surrealism in America. a. He too studied in Paris. b. He was there at the same time as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway. c. These expats are known as the “lost .” 2. , also a member of their circle, was interested in “stream of consciousness,” which is governed by free association. 3. Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts is representative. a. He uses Southern Baptist in an opera—this in and of itself is surreal. 4. Like Stein, Thomson was interested in the interplay of sound and meaning. a. Tonal illustration is not necessary, like Stein’s freedom of syntax. b. Accompaniment is functional, if at all, and a collage of musical elements. 5. Thomson’s Surrealism represents the finding themselves after the devastation of war.

III. Opera A. Music in the 1. Germans struggled with identity after World War I. There were several different responses, including that of Schoenberg and twelve-tone technique. 2. Another alternative was New Objectivity, a foil to the Romantic make-believe. 3. Zeitoper represents an interest in popular, relevant, and communicative art. a. It is practical, about what is going on now. b. Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf (1927) is an example. 4. A related idea to Zeitoper is Gebrauchmusik—music for use. 5. The main proponent of this was Hindemith. a. His early works are Expressionistic and scandalous, but he moved toward the ordinary and topical. b. The instrumental works also reflected a relationship with the contemporary and popular elements. c. The 1920s saw his ironic and Modernist period.

B. Berg’s Wozzeck 1. Because they were timely, the operas discussed earlier fell out of the repertory as time moved on. 2. Berg’s Wozzeck has had the best staying power of the German operas from the 1920s. 3. Wozzeck combines elements of Romanticism and with ideas from the 1920s: post-war disillusionment, irony, political critique, archaic musical forms, and . 4. Atonal and disturbing, the work was nonetheless an international success.

a. The story was relevant in the post-war era. b. It unfolds not unlike a movie. c. The shocking violence was familiar from Italian verismo. 5. The orchestral writing is colorful and inventive. 6. It includes prominent leitmotifs. 7. Some of the popular idioms used include folk songs, marches, and waltzes. 8. Berg also draws on instrumental genres and forms, such as pavane, gavotte, etc., but they do not necessarily fit classic definitions. a. The second act is actually a five-movement symphony. 9. As in the Lyric Suite, hidden devices carry personal meanings in the opera. a. Passages from the Bible, and Mary Magdalene, are associated with the character Marie. b. Berg also draws on the idea of an “Invention” (á la Bach) in each scene in Act III to dramatize the obsessions of the title character. 10. Atonal music is a representational device for physical or psychological abnormality.

C. Music for Political Action 1. Some composers felt that music should provide social commentary, not just satiric fun (as in Hindemith and Krenek or the French). 2. Kurt Weill’s Zeitopers did just that and were compared favorably to Wozzeck. 3. Weill collaborated with . a. Brecht sought to do away with conventional theater’s attempts to portray “real” actions. b. Separation of the audience from the performers was a traditional convention (the imaginary fourth wall). Brecht broke through this barrier (he was not the first, but utilized it more) in an attempt to illustrate the artificiality of theater. c. Brecht’s new ideas about theater were part of a political agenda, as was Weill’s music. 4. Weill noted that music achieves its value when it interrupts the action at the right moments, positioning itself as regards the action and influencing the listener’s response. 5. The most famous Weill/Brecht collaboration was The Threepenny Opera (1928). a. They modeled it on Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. b. Instead of operatic singers, the cast included singers and dramatic actors. c. Seven musicians played twenty-three instruments. d. The music’s interruption was highlighted by lighting, keeping the orchestra lit, and putting the names of the pieces onscreen. 6. Like Wozzeck, The Threepenny Opera is a commentary on how society deals with the poor. 7. The Threepenny Opera counteracts operatic conventions in numerous ways, such as having part of it sung in front of the curtain.

D. From Vienna to Hollywood: The Death of Opera? 1. The operas discussed here caused much discussion during the 1920s and 1930s. They were some of the last truly popular operas. 2. The support for such operas dried up when the Nazis came to power.

3. The of 1929 and the ensuing economic slump also affected the viability of opera houses. 4. Another factor was , especially those with singing. a. A movie soundtrack could be similar to an opera in communicating with the audience. b. The creative energy that had been used in opera shifted now to the film industry. 5. Erich Korngold was one of the earliest to adapt classical music to the screen. a. His father was a prominent critic. b. He studied Zemlinsky, Schoenberg’s teacher, at the suggestion of Mahler. c. His opera Die tote Stadt (1920) was a symbolist drama laden with leitmotivs and full sonority, with a flashy orchestral score in the style of Strauss. 6. The outbreak of war in 1938 caused Korngold to remain in America. 7. Max Steiner, another European immigrant, also turned to filmscoring, using a special technique of leitmotivs underneath the score (“underscoring”). a. He wrote the scores for King Kong and Gone with the Wind. 8. Schoenberg and Stravinsky made attempts a filmscoring but were not successful. 9. Several of the successful film composers, including Korngold and Miklós Rózsa, led double lives in the movie industry and as classical composers.