The local classickal station has been featuring an “American Musick” theme this month which it intends to run all the way through the July 4 weekend.

On the one hand, this has been beneficial in that I’ve been able to sample pieces by composers I’ve never heard of before.

On the other hand, well, it turns out there’s a pretty good reason why I’ve never heard of them.  Once one gets past Barber (whom I dislike), Copeland (whom I find tedious) and Gershwin (whose “Rhapsody in Blue” has been beaten to death), the bench turns out to be awefully shallow.   Frankly, I think the station over-reached somewhat.

I don’t believe this is a particular bad reflection on America per se.  Rayther, I think it’s just a result of unfortunate timing.  America being such a young nation, the Arts in this country were just starting to come up when classickal musick as a whole was starting to come off the rails.  Most recognized American composers are from the 20th Century and, well, that just isn’t a very good place to be in terms of serious musick.

By way of comparison and to prove my point, I would also note that the 20th Century was a good place to be in terms of more popular kinds of musick.  Think swing and big band.  Think Broadway musicals.  There it’s arguable that American talent in fact dominated.   And the truth of the matter is that I’d much rayther listen to Rodgers and Hart or Cole Porter than, say, Howard Hanson.

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