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Sound CommitmentsAvant-Garde Music and the Sixties$
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Robert Adlington

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336641.001.0001

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American Cultural Diplomacy and the Mediation of Avant‐garde Music

American Cultural Diplomacy and the Mediation of Avant‐garde Music

(p.232) 11 American Cultural Diplomacy and the Mediation of Avant‐garde Music
Sound Commitments

Danielle Fosler‐Lussier

Oxford University Press

Avant‐garde music played a small but important role in American cultural diplomacy during the cold war. In Western Europe, it was meant to demonstrate the United States' cultural sophistication; in Eastern Europe, to present a provocative alternative to socialist realism. In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the music both engaged elite listeners and elicited feelings of respectful indebtedness from broader audiences. The latter relationship can be described as an unusual form of “gift economy” in which questions of prestige and value were negotiated through the medium of a musical performance with its accompanying publicity. While during the 1960s avant‐garde jazz and art music were treated alike in some respects, American officials were more likely to alter jazz programs, reflecting ambivalent expectations about their global audiences and about jazz as high art.

Keywords:   avant‐garde music, cold war, gift, jazz, 1960s, cultural diplomacy, United States

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