Encountering Indians

Beth E. Levy

in Frontier Figures

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520267763
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952027 | DOI:
Encountering Indians

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This chapter focuses on the music of Charles Wakefield Cadman, who was Farwell's contemporary and by far the most popular Indianist of his generation. Cadman's frontier music dramas operated with a ready-made cast of characters meant to evoke real people and places, but they also relied on centuries of operatic practice that placed more importance on the suspension of disbelief than on the pretense of realism. In fact, Cadman's works illustrate very powerfully the tensions at the heart of so many American westerns: between “tall tales” and “true-to-life” stories, between the desire for dramatic effect and the impulse toward verisimilitude. If Farwell offered up a visionary West—philosophical and introverted to the point of idiosyncrasy—Cadman represents an extroverted West, pragmatic in its aims and material in its rewards.

Keywords: Charles Wakefield Cadman; American music; Indianist; frontier music dramas; American West; composers

Chapter.  12120 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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