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The Sound of a Superpower – Musical Americanism and the Cold War - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Sound of a Superpower: Musical Americanism and the Cold War

Emily Abrams Ansari


Classical composers seeking to create an American sound enjoyed unprecedented success during the 1930s and 1940s. Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Howard Hanson, and others brought national and international attention to American composers for the first time in history. In the years after World War II, however, something changed. The prestige of musical Americanism waned rapidly as anti-Communists made accusations against leading Americanist composers. Meanwhile, a method of harmonic organization that some considered more Cold War–appropriate—serialism—began to rise in status. For many composers and ... More

Keywords: Cold War, Americanism, musical nationalism, American exceptionalism, tonality, serialism, anti-Communism, cultural diplomacy, politics of style, State Department

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780190649692
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190649692.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Emily Abrams Ansari, author
Assistant Professor of Musicology, Western University