Introduction: Toward a History of American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century

Deane L. Root

in American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780226769769
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226769776 | DOI:
Introduction: Toward a History of American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century

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This chapter explains the major historiographical perspectives of prior research on the nineteenth-century American orchestra. The study of American orchestras is both a pursuit more than a century old and a new, wide-open field. The first generation of histories of American orchestras was absorbed in the social gospels of America's late nineteenth-century educated class. The increase of American music studies coincided with a sea change in musicology as a discipline. A cumulative influence of the chapters in this book indicate that the earlier standard narrative about American orchestras in the nineteenth century severely undervalued and misrepresented the richness and importance of orchestras in the web of culture. It tried to understand the lives of men and women who played in those orchestras, looked at the ensembles as part of the “businesses” of entertainment and culture, and explored orchestral history in the framework of ethnicity and national identification.

Keywords: American orchestras; American music; musicology; nineteenth century; entertainment; culture; ethnicity; national identification

Chapter.  6424 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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