University of Pittsburgh

Colloquium: Classical Music in America — What Went Wrong?

Acclaimed Musicologist Joseph Horowitz will try to answer the question during his guest lecture. The event takes place in Room 123, Music Building, free to the public. Joseph Horowitz's talk will explore the American attempt to cultivate an indigenous musical high culture, and how it turned into a "mutation" of the European model. Instead of attaining a grounding American canon of symphonies, sonatas,and operas, classical music in the US remains grounded in masterpieces by dead Europeans. Not the composer, but the performer — the famous conductor, pianist, or orchestra — has defined American classical music. In the 20th century, classical music in the US ceded creative leadership to jazz. How and why did this happen? What can be done about it? What challenges result for American musicians and institutions of performance? Joseph Horowitz is an artistic consultant, teacher, and author. He is one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music. As an orchestral administrator and advisor, he has been a pioneering force in the development of thematic programming and new concert formats. Mr. Horowitz's first seven books — including Classical Music in America: A History, named one of the best books of 2005 by The Economist — offer a detailed history and analysis of American symphonic culture, its achievements, challenges, and prospects for the future. Of his new book, Artists in Exile: How Refugees from War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts (HarperCollins, Feb. 2008), Arlene Croce has written: "Joseph Horowitz has taken on a job which very much needed doing, and which needed doing specifically by him. He has made a thoroughgoing analysis of that special European emigration in the last century which so deeply influenced, and was influenced by, American culture. Bringing his superbly cultivated, coordinated interdisciplinary approach to bear on the largest possible scale—from the harbinger Dvorak to Stravinsky and Balanchine, from Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg to Hollywood and Broadway; from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War— he gathers dozens of extraordinary lives into a chronicle of epic force."

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