Representing the Good Neighbor: Music, Difference, and the Pan American Dream

Oxford University Press
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Winner of the 2015 Robert M. Stevenson Award from the American Musicological Society In Representing the Good Neighbor: Music, Difference, and the Pan American Dream, Carol A. Hess investigates the reception of Latin American art music in the US during the twentieth century. Hers is the first study to probe Latin American art music in relation to Pan Americanism, or the idea that the American nations are bound by common aspirations. Under the Good Neighbor policy, crafted by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to cement hemispheric solidarity amid fears of European fascism, Latin American art music flourished and US critics applauded it as "universal." During the Cold War, however, this repertory assumed a very different status. While the United States supported Latin American military dictators to assuage fears that communism would overwhelm the hemisphere, musical works were increasingly objectified through essentializing adjectives such as "exotic," distinctive," or "national"--through the filter of difference. Hess explores this phenomenon by tracking the reception in the United States of the so-called Big Three: Carlos Chávez (Mexico), Heitor Villa-Lobos (Brazil), and Alberto Ginastera (Argentina). She also evaluates several important US composers and critics-Copland, Thomson, Rosenfeld, and others-in relation to Pan Americanism, and offers a new interpretation of a work about Latin America by US composer Fredric Rzewski, 36 Variations on "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!" Whether discussing works performed in modern music concerts of the 1920s, at the 1939 World's Fair, the inauguration of the New York State Theater in 1966, or for the US Bicentennial, Hess illuminates ways in which North-South relations continue to inform our understanding of Latin American art music today. As the first book to examine in detail the critical reception of Latin American music in the United States, Representing the Good Neighbor promises to be a landmark in the field of American music studies, and will be essential reading for students and scholars of music in the US and Latin America during the twentieth-century. It will also appeal to historians studying US-Latin America relations, as well as general readers interested in the history of American music.
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About the author

Carol A. Hess is Professor of Musicology at University of California, Davis. She is author of Manuel de Falla and Modernism in Spain, 1898-1936 (Chicago, 2001, winner of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award and the Robert M. Stevenson prize for outstanding scholarship in Iberian music) and Sacred Passions: The Life and Music of Manuel de Falla (Oxford 2004).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Jun 26, 2013
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780199339891
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / Ethnomusicology
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The work of composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) ranges from late-romantic salon pieces to evocations of flamenco to stark neoclassicism. Yet his music has met with conflicting reactions, depending on the audience. In his native Spain, Falla is considered the most innovative composer of the first half of the twentieth century. Likewise, in the United States, Falla enjoyed a strong following in the concert hall. But many of his works, especially some of the "colorful" or "exotic" dances from The Three-Cornered Hat and El Amor Brujo, were taken up during the Latin music craze of the 1930s and 40s and appeared in everything from jazz and pop arrangements to MGM musicals. Similarly enigmatic are the details of Falla's life. He never sustained a lasting, intimate relationship with a woman, yet he created compelling female roles for the lyric stage. Although he became incensed when publishers altered his music, he more than once tinkered with Chopin and Debussy. Despite insisting that he was apolitical, Falla ultimately took sides in the Spanish Civil War, initially allying himself rather half-heartedly with Franco's Nationalists but later rejecting the honors they proffered. All his life, his rigorous brand of Roman Catholicism brought him both solace and agony in his quest for spiritual and artistic perfection. In Sacred Passions: The Life and Music of Manuel de Falla, Carol A. Hess explores these contradictions and offers a fresh understanding of this fascinating composer. Building on over a decade of research, Hess examines Falla's work in terms of musical style and explores the cultural milieus in which he worked. During a seven-year sojourn to Paris just pior to World War I, Falla associated with composers Dukas, Stravinsky, Ravel, and the rest of the group known as les Apaches. Later, back in Spain, he played a pivotal role in the remarkable cultural renaissance known as the "Silver Age," during which Lorca, Buñuel, Dalí, Unamuno-and of course Falla himself-made some of their boldest artistic statements. Hess also explores a number of myths cultivated in earlier biographies, including Falla's supposed misogynistic tendencies and accusations of homosexuality, which have led some biographers to consider him a saint-like ascetic. She offers a balanced view of his behavior during the Spanish Civil War, a wrenching event for a Spaniard of his generation, and one that Falla biographers have left largely untouched. With superb analysis of his music and enlightening detail about its critical reception, Hess also examines Falla's status in some circles as little more than a high-class pop composer, given the mass appeal of much of his music. She incorporates recent research on Falla, draws upon untapped sources in the Falla archives, and reevaluates his work in terms of current issues in musicology. Ultimately, Hess places Falla's variegated ouevre, which straddles popular and serious idioms, securely among the best of his better-known European contemporaries. What emerges is a gracefully written, balanced portrait of a man whose lofty spiritual values inspired singular musical utterances but were often at odds with the decidedly imperfect world he inhabited.
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