The Golden Age
The Golden Age
Pan Americanist Culture, War, and the Triumph of Universalism
This chapter examines the climax of north-south sameness-embracing, the period following the outbreak of war in September 1939. One manifestation of Pan Americanist culture was Latin American–themed music by U.S. composers, much of which verged on the commercial. Virgil Thomson, who reviewed Villa-Lobos’s music (and whose antinationalist barbs parallel the sentiments of many Latin American composers and critics), laid the groundwork for Brazilian universalism. Villa-Lobos’s reputation in the United States also gained luster from the alliance between the Brazilian strongman Getúlio Vargas and the United States, cemented in 1942 after a long courtship and touted by art music critics and the U.S. music industry. Reflecting the commercial bent of much Pan Americanist culture, Villa-Lobos was also bound to Hollywood and the culture industry, as corroborated by his foray into the American musical, Magdalena, read here in the context of Pan Americanism’s abrupt deterioration during the early years of the cold war.
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