American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century

by John Spitzer

American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century Synopsis

Studies of concert life in nineteenth-century America have generally been limited to large orchestras and the programs we are familiar with today. But as this book reveals, audiences of that era enjoyed far more diverse musical experiences than such focus would suggest. To hear an orchestra, people were more likely to head to a beer garden, restaurant, or summer resort than to a concert hall. And what they heard weren't just symphonic works - programs also included opera excerpts and arrangements, instrumental showpieces, comic numbers, and medleys of patriotic tunes. This book brings together musicologists and historians to investigate the many orchestras and programs that developed in nineteenth-century America. In addition to reflecting on the music that orchestras played and the socioeconomic aspects of building and maintaining orchestras, the book considers a wide range of topics, including audiences, entrepreneurs, concert arrangements, tours, and musicians' unions. The authors also show that the period saw a massive influx of immigrant performers, the increasing ability of orchestras to travel across the nation, and the rising influence of women as listeners, patrons, and players. Painting a rich and detailed picture of nineteenth-century concert life, this collection will greatly broaden our understanding of America's musical history.

American Orchestras in the Nineteenth Century Press Reviews

To a remarkable degree, the symphony orchestra is an American invention, distinct from the pit orchestras of Europe. And yet our knowledge of nineteenth-century American orchestras remains amazingly incomplete. Surely this volume will help build momentum toward an adequate understanding of a vital, even heroic chapter in American cultural history. --Joseph Horowitz, author of ClassicalMusic in America: A History This superb collection of essays breaks new ground. The scholarship by preeminent scholars relies on new archival sources. The volume s contribution to the history of music in America is unique. Readers in many fields will benefit from Spitzer s collection: an encounter with the extent of amateur concert life, the history of musicians unions and touring ensembles, and the origins of today s professional orchestras in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York. The richness and variety of concert repertoire in America, much of it forgotten, come alive. Playing and listening to orchestral music in nineteenth-century America assume a significance long underestimated. This is a long overdue contribution to understanding music within urban and public culture in America before 1900. --Leon Botstein, Bard College To a remarkable degree, the 'symphony orchestra' is an American invention, distinct from the pit orchestras of Europe. And yet our knowledge of nineteenth-century American orchestras remains amazingly incomplete. Surely this volume will help build momentum toward an adequate understanding of a vital, even heroic chapter in American cultural history. --Joseph Horowitz, author of Classical Music in America: A History This superb collection of essays breaks new ground. The scholarship by preeminent scholars relies on new archival sources. The volume's contribution to the history of music in America is unique. Readers in many fields will benefit from Spitzer's collection: an encounter with the extent of amateur concert life, the history of musicians' unions and touring ensembles, and the origins of today's professional orchestras in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York. The richness and variety of concert repertoire in America, much of it forgotten, come alive. Playing and listening to orchestral music in nineteenth-century America assume a significance long underestimated. This is a long overdue contribution to understanding music within urban and public culture in America before 1900. --Leon Botstein, Bard College

Book Information

ISBN: 9780226769769
Publication date: 27th April 2012
Author: John Spitzer
Publisher: University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 488 pages
Categories: Orchestras,

About John Spitzer

John Spitzer teaches music history at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is coauthor of The Birth of the Orchestra: History of an Institution, 1650-1815.

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