Dvorák’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music (Hardcover)

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Item: 9780393881240

Description

Dvorák’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music (Hardcover)
By Joseph Horowitz

A provocative interpretation of why classical music in America “stayed white” – how it got to be that way, and what can be done about it.

In 1893, the composer Antonin Dvorák prophesied a “great and noble” school of American classical music based on the searing “negro melodies” he had excitedly discovered since arriving in the United States a year before. But while Black music would found popular genres known the world over, it never gained a foothold in the concert hall.

Joseph Horowitz ranges throughout American cultural history, from Frederick Douglass and Huckleberry Finn to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the work of Ralph Ellison, searching for explanations. Challenging the standard narrative for American classical music fashioned by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, he looks back to literary figures – Emerson, Melville, and Twain – to ponder how American music can connect with a “usable past.” The result is a “new paradigm” that makes room for Black composers including Harry Burleigh, Nathaniel Dett, William Dawson, and Florence Price to redefine the classical canon.

About the Author
A former New York Times music critic, Joseph Horowitz is the author of ten books exploring the history of American music, including Classical Music in America and Artists in Exile – both named Books of the Year by The Economist. He lives in New York City.

  • Hardcover (256 pages)
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (November 23, 2021)
  • Dimensions: 6.4” W x 9.3” H


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History

Music Notes

Most Western music is based on a system of notation that evolved around 1600 out of earlier practices. The starting point for any opera is the full score, which contains all individual voices and instruments arranged in a specific order on the page. The written music—representing the sounds a composer creates in his head—then comes to life performed by singers onstage and played by the orchestra.

 

 

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