American Music and Disability: A Framework for Disability Pedagogy

A Not-So Quiet Place: American Music and Disability

Volume XLV, No. 3 
(Fall 2019) 


American Music and Disability

A Not-So Quiet Place

Ways to Move, Places to Start, Questions to Ask

From the President

Conference Report

Career Connections

Upcoming JSAM Contents

Book Reviews

In Remembrance

Bulletin Board

About the Bulletin

James Deaville

Disability is a recurrent feature of American music and musical life, especially evident in music for stage and screen and the various genres of popular music. Scholars of American music have to deal with disability in teaching and/or research, and yet there exist few resources to provide guidance in approaching music and the creative forces and institutional contexts behind it. As a result, we offer these considerations in the hope that they will fill that gap in the study of American music.

The pianism of Tom Wiggins, the jazz performance of Horace Parlan, the singing/songwriting of Mary Lambert: these musicians represent the diversity of contexts in which disability has intersected with bodies of difference in American music. Of course, disabled bodies have long entertained audiences of stage and screen, whatever the impairment and the mode of presentation, though Rosemarie Garland Thomson has famously observed that disability is “not so much a property of bodies as a product of cultural rules about what bodies should be or do.”1 Still, the very ubiquity of disability may have led to its invisibility to the general public and academics alike, while for artists—we think of the broken bodies of Johnnie Ray and Rachel Barton Pine, the broken minds of Rosemary Clooney and Brian Wilson—it has involved often traumatic loss, painful rehabilitation, or distressing passing.

However, disability in music does not limit itself to the lived experience of performers: composers and listeners alike can interpret music as referencing impairments of some kind, with more or less plausibility. Joseph Straus, for example, has raised compelling arguments for us to hear Modernist music through the ears of disability, citing the Modernist quotation style of Charles Ives as “in line with the contemporary diagnosis of Ives as neurasthenic…, result[ing] from an excess of modernity.”2 We may not agree with his mapping of that specific disability upon the music of Ives, yet it opens up possibilities for hearing the style from a different perspective, from that of the multiple voices it invokes. The Modernist repertoire is just one body of American music that lends itself to an alternative exegesis through disability.

If you wish to introduce disability in your teaching and research in American music, however, you may encounter resistance at several levels. The invisible ubiquity and familiarity of disability through media representations may occasion questions about the validity of its application in music study. Related to this issue is the relative lack of clarity over markers of disability in music beyond textual references; in other words, the query: how might music sound when it is produced under the sign of disability? The paucity of work with music from the perspective of disability makes an answer to that question provisional at best. And then you may experience the essentialist argument that only academics with or close to persons with disabilities can write about the topic.

Despite these potential hindrances, however, we believe the study of disability in music and musicians can unveil to academics exciting new possibilities for teaching and research. The feature by Stefan Honisch in this Bulletin issue centers on the former; in a future Bulletin issue, Andrew Tubbs will address the latter.

The advantage of sharing insights into disability with music students is that they themselves have probably experienced some impairment during the course of studying music, whether tendonitis, vocal strain, or—turning inward—nervousness. Moreover, being able to explain to students how physical impairment redirected the musical activity of Curtis Mayfield or how the vocal damage from a nodule resulted in Bing Crosby’s distinctive singing style can help students realize how much of a role disability has played in American musical history. And when you add gender and race to vocal damage, like in the case of Ethel Waters,3 the resulting convergence of marginalizing identity categories creates an opportunity for students to consider how American culture thematizes these factors in assessing music and musicians. Thus a flaw in a male voice may be overlooked while a moderately damaged voice in a woman can spell the end of a career.

The task of bringing disability into the American-music classroom and conference room is formidable, yet we feel that the effort will be rewarded. We hope that our brief contributions will provide the society with tools and methods that will be useful in working toward that goal.

1 Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 6–7.
2 Joseph N. Straus, Broken Beauty: Musical Modernism and the Representation of Disability (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 98.
3 Laurie Stras, “The Organ of the Soul: Voice, Damage, and Affect,” in Sounding Off: Theorizing Disability in Music, eds. Neil Lerner and Joseph Straus (New York: Routledge, 2006), 180–81.

Ways to Move, Places to Start, Questions to Ask: A Framework for Disability Pedagogy

Stefan Sunandan Honisch

In “Decolonizing the Society for American Music,” Tamara Levitz calls for concerted efforts to tackle institutional white supremacy.1 Her commentary foregrounds the need for “theorizing about and clarifying coloniality of power, considering its spatial and temporal consequences, and taking a wide range of actions to counter it.” The present essay, in dialogue with Levitz, brings the perspectives of Critical Disability Studies to bear on this collective work. In furtherance of this aim, its focus is on the epistemological who, why, and how of teaching and learning music of the Americas, rather than on the ontological what. Moving the spotlight away from what American music is or is not illuminates empty places: who is not in our classrooms and why? And how can pedagogical practices informed by Critical Disability Studies invite those previously excluded into our educational midst?

The concept of coloniality of power explains how colonial practices are reproduced, institutionalized, and upheld by those with power and privilege.2 Like coloniality of power, ableism depends for its sustenance on capitalism.3 The approaches of Critical Disability Studies therefore proceed from a recognition that Eurocentric analyses of disability and poverty fail to consider “the impact of colonialism and global capitalism in shaping the experiences of millions of disabled people in the global South through the intersection among disability and other forms of identities.”4 Aligning Critical Disability Studies with decolonizing pedagogy requires the Society for American Music to push its research, teaching, and outreach against the invisible and inaudible hand of the free market in perpetuating ableist and colonizing structures and practices.

Ableism and coloniality usurp power and knowledge from marginalized communities, working to erase their embodied presence from history and education.5 The resistance that marginalized communities practice in response to this erasure includes modes of disability activism sidelined in Eurocentric accounts of rights-based movements in the global North.

Offering a nuanced historical analysis, Adria L. Imada’s article “A Decolonial Disability Studies?” explains how ableism and colonization have worked in tandem to establish global inequality. Imada observes that “colonial projects imposed impossible regimes and expectations of self-regulation its subjects would not be able to perform. Thus, the colonized were always already figured and constituted as disabled…”6 Dismantling racist, sexist, heteronormative, homophobic, transphobic, classist, and ableist ways of thinking, conducting research, teaching, and learning must be coupled with a refusal to allow the institution’s professional identity markers—“American music”—to subside into the kind of “tenacious vagueness” against which Levitz rightly warns.7

James Deaville (this issue) suggests that case studies of disabled musicians can “help students realize how much of a role disability has played in American musical history.” Pursuing Deaville’s argument further, in conversation with Levitz, there needs to be a recognition of identity, embodiment, and disciplinary knowledge as friction points, ones which can most productively be engaged with through intersectional curricula and pedagogy.

Individual accommodations for disabled students are typically secured through bureaucratic and administrative processes in education. In contrast, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an educational framework gaining increased traction, anticipates difference and rejects normalizing practices in education, through compelling alternatives to individual accommodations that meet a maximum range of accessibility needs.

The recent podcast “Decolonizing the Music Curriculum with Andrew Dell’Antonio at the Big XII Teaching and Learning Conference” highlights the potential benefits of this framework, while emphasizing the need to think through the ways in which forms of musical engagement that privilege exceptional ability uphold colonizing and disabling hierarchies.8 Because of its critical engagement with UDL practices, the insights that Dell’Antonio offers can be used to guide the case studies of disabled musicians’ extraordinary circumstances emphasized by Deaville (this issue). To Jay T. Dolmage’s emphasis on UDL as comprising “ways to move” and “places to start,” I would therefore add a third category: “questions to ask.”9

Without adequate support systems in place, accessible learning evaporates into clouds of diverse and inclusive piety, preventing UDL from realizing its ostensible goals. With this in mind, consider the difficult questions that Stephen Kuusisto raises about UDL.10 Jeff Preston’s presentation at Western University makes the case that accessible learning ultimately benefits non-disabled teachers and learners as well.11 This position is, however, controversial. Jay T. Dolmage’s Academic Ableism: Disability in Higher Education, for example, offers a persuasive analysis of its drawbacks, grounded in critical race theory elaboration of “interest-convergence.”12 These active conversations and disagreements can be woven to Critical Disability Studies pedagogy in the classroom to build awareness that accessibility is a dynamic process shaped by historical injustices and their present-day extensions. How we move, whom we teach, and why involve recognizing the inhospitable teaching and learning environments that disabled students, faculty, and staff navigate in order to participate in academic life: structural ableism, embedded in the coloniality of power, excludes disabled people, and these forms of exclusion multiply and intersect for disabled scholars, educators, staff, and students marginalized by structural racism, sexism, heteronormativity, cis-normativity, and classism.

Community-based activism and self-advocacy have too often remained invisible and inaudible in Disability Studies, this despite its stated goals of recovering “omitted histories, ideas, or bodies of literature.”13 Having identified questions to ask, the remainder of this essay turns toward pedagogical resources with which to explore Critical Disability Studies and decolonization in the classroom.

Melanie Hibbert’s Intersectionality Network calls attention to the forms of discrimination experienced by disabled women of color in higher education.14 This resource includes a personal essay by its founder that explores her lived experiences of higher education as a disabled woman of color.15 As with Sisters of Frida: Disabled Women, intersectional readings about disability are central.16 These resources can guide research and teaching that grapple with the “epistemic inequality” resulting from “the globalization of the disability rights movement” discussed earlier in relation to the Eurocentric accents of Disability Studies scholarship.17

Sins Invalid’s articulation of Ten Principles of Disability Justice marks a pivotal challenge to the rights-based discourses and whiteness of Disability Studies; led by disabled activists of color, it embraces the critical goal of collective justice.18 Zenobia Morrill’s post for the Mad in America blog, “Disability and Decolonial Studies Disrupt the Medical Model,” is likewise an important classroom resource.19 Essential for contemporary studies of music in the Americas, Leroy F. Moore’s Krip-Hop Nation guides public conversations about racism, classism, and ableism, underscoring the talents of musicians with disabilities & at the same time advocate & celebrate our history, intersectional cultures & to politically educate ourselves & our communities locally, nationally & internationally.”20 Joseph Horowitz’s article in The American Scholar on the marginalization of African-American composers, and an accompanying podcast “Why Has American Classical Music Ignored Its Black Roots?” are also valuable pedagogical resources.21

Rejecting single-issue activism, the multi-dimensional teaching and learning made possible by Critical Disability Studies and decolonial analysis hold the promise of denaturalizing ability.22 Beyond this essay’s horizon lie many more questions that can and should be asked, can and should be answered. Critical Disability pedagogy takes seriously “the embodied experience of learning,” thereby clearing a pathway forward.23

1 Tamara Levitz, “Decolonizing the Society for American Music,” The Bulletin of the Society for American Music 43, no. 3 (Fall 2017), 5–12.
2 Aníbal Quijano and Michael Ennis, “Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America,” Nepantla: View from South 1, no. 3 (2000): 533–580. As cited by Levitz (2017).
3 Xuan Thuy Nguyen, “Critical Disability Studies at the Edge of Global Development: Why Do We Need to Engage with Southern Theory?” Canadian Journal of Disability Studies 7, no. 1 (March 2018), 1–25.
4 Ibid., 12.
5 Nirmala Erevelles, “Thinking with Disability Studies,” Disability Studies Quarterly 34, no. 2 (2014), n.p.
6 Adria L. Imada, “A Decolonial Disability Studies?” Disability Studies Quarterly 37, no. 3 (2017), n.p.
7 Levitz, “Decolonizing,” 4.
8 Lillian Nave and Andrew Dell’Antonio, “Decolonizing the Music Curriculum with Andrew Dell’Antonio at the Big XII Teaching and Learning Conference,” n.d. [Podcast]
9 Jay T. Dolmage, “Universal Design: Places to Start,” Disability Studies Quarterly 35, no. 2 (2015), n.p.
10 Stephen Kuusisto, “Universal Design and Utopian Insistence,” Planet of the Blind” (2019). [Blog].
11 Jeff Preston, “Universal Design for Learning & the Accessible Experience” (2019). [YouTube].
12 Derrick A. Bell Jr., “Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest—Convergence Dilemma.” Harvard Law Review (1980): 518­33.This article is referenced in Jay T. Dolmage, Academic Ableism: Disability in Higher Education (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2017).
13 Simi Linton, Susan Mello & John O‘Neill, “Disability Studies: Expanding the Parameters of Diversity,” The Radical Teacher 47 (December 1995): 5.
14 Melanie Hibbert, “Intersectionality Network.”
15 Melanie Hibbert, “Personal, Public, Institutional: My Journey in Disability Studies” (2017). Intersectionality Network.
16 Sisters of Frida: Disabled Women, “Reading List: Intersectional Disability & Disabled Women” (January 2017).
17 Nguyen, “Disability Studies at the Edge,” 9.
18 Patricia Berne, Aurora Levins Morales, David Langstaff, Sins Invalid, “Ten Principles of Disability Justice,” WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly 46, nos. 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2018): 227–230.
19 Zenobia Morrill, “Disability and Decolonial Studies Disrupt the Medical Model.” Mad in America (2019). [Blog].
20 Leroy F. Moore, Krip Hop Nation: It’s More Than Music! [Blog].
21 Joseph Horowitz, “New World Prophecy,” The American Scholar, September 13, 2019.
22 Morrill, “Disability and Decolonial Studies,” para. 23.
23 Anna Hickey-Moody and Vicki Crowley, “Disability Matters: Pedagogy, Media and Affect,” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 31, no. 4 (2010): 399–409.


From the President

Tammy Kernodle

Tammy Kernodle, SAM President

Finally signs of fall are beginning to appear after a long, hot summer. I love fall not just because of the wonderful colors that mark its arrival, but also for the season of transition and change it represents. The past few months since our conference in New Orleans have been an exciting period of transition for SAM. Megan McDonald is settling into the role of our new Executive Director. She and Maribeth Clark have been working diligently to centralize the management of our finances. Paula Bishop, who worked so diligently in launching our new website, has agreed to officially serve as the society’s Technology Chair. This is a continuation of her work with SAM. In this role, she will work with various committees and entities to insure the usability of the website and dissemination of much needed information. Our Local Arrangements Committee and Program Committee are working hard to finalize the details for our conference in Minneapolis next year. It is shaping up to be an exciting meeting. The Development Committee reached the goal of funding the Kitty Keller Award and we now have 50 sustained givers. Thank you for your continued support! I also want to thank those who expressed support for our many awards and initiatives, but were unable to give at this time. I understand the challenges that surround financial giving. I think it’s important to state that my view of the culture of giving in SAM extends beyond monetary donations. We want and need your money, but SAM also needs your talents, specialized skills, perspectives, and time. There are numerous committees that could use your time and intellectual labor. So if you would like to give to SAM, but don’t have the funds, give us your time and serve the Society.

During the fall meeting the Board and I outlined some priorities for SAM. They center on sustainability and inclusiveness. Our annual conference is one of the key initiatives that embodies SAM’s mission of promoting the music of the Americas, but it is also one of the things that has disturbed my sleep in recent months. What troubles me most is the financial dissonance that the changing dynamics of our field and the growing costs associated with the conference are creating.  The current model is not sustainable. How do we as a professional society recognize the diverse economic and professional profile of our membership while maintaining the high level of professional engagement that takes place at our conference? In addition to the financial issues of the current conference model, concern has also been raised about the type of engagement that takes place. Currently our conference, like many others, is packed with so much activity that the type of engagement and networking that many seek in these moments does not always happen. How do we balance the need to provide a platform for the types of scholarship we engage in, but not deplete the intellectual and physical energy of conference attendees? My last concern surrounds inclusiveness and expanding this conversation into questions surrounding accessibility at the conference. While I believe our conference infrastructure addresses this in relation to specific aspects of the meeting, we need to think more broadly about this. In recognition of these and other concerns voiced to me by the Board and other constituencies, I am convening an Ad Hoc committee to create a long-range plan for the annual conference. This work will extend beyond that done by our committee on the conference, and will encompass strategizing a plan for a more affordable, sustainable, inclusive, and engaging conference model. The co-chairs of this committee will be calling on the membership to assist in this work. I hope that you will assist us in this effort by graciously providing your insights when called upon.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge again the passing of three extraordinary individuals, whose impact on my life stretched beyond these words that I offer. I met Vivian Perlis, Michael Pisani, and Robert Judd at different phases of my professional career, and each assisted me in my personal and professional journey. Their transitions mark a tremendous loss, but also serve as a reminder of the three things that they embodied—character, integrity, and a passion for life and the work that they did! I’m thankful for what they contributed to our field, but most of all for who they were!

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Conference Report: Woodstock50

Woodstock50 Co-Chairs: Alex Ludwig and Simone Pilon

Woodstock 50 Attendees, from left to right: Simone Pilon (chair of the liberal arts department, and co-author of the report), Chip Monck (stage and lighting designer, emcee), Gerardo Valez (drummer during Jimi Hendrix set), Rona Elliot (community relations and outreach), Michael Lang (co-founder), Henry Diltz (official photographer), Bill Hanley (sound designer), Mike Mason (assistant chair of the liberal arts department), Alex Ludwig

From left to right: Simone Pilon (chair of the liberal arts department, and co-author of the report)Chip Monck (stage and lighting designer, emcee)Gerardo Valez (drummer during Jimi Hendrix set)Rona Elliot (community relations and outreach)Michael Lang (co-founder)Henry Diltz (official photographer)Bill Hanley (sound designer)Mike Mason (assistant chair of the liberal arts department), Alex Ludwig

During the first week of April 2019, Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair with a campus-wide celebration. Hosted by Berklee’s Liberal Arts Department, in collaboration with the Professional Education Division, the celebration concluded with a three-day symposium, titled “Woodstock50: Then and Now.” The original Woodstock festival was not only a pivotal moment for the history of pop music, but also a turning point in the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, and this symposium sought to place Woodstock within a larger musical and social context. Taking its cue from the subtitle, “Then and Now,” the symposium highlighted the first-hand experiences of the event’s producers, performances by student ensembles, and presentations by scholars and students of the festival’s history.

The symposium began on Friday evening with an opening celebration featuring the music and pictures of the original festival. Henry Diltz, the official photographer of Woodstock and the Herb Alpert Scholar in Residence at Berklee (2019-2020), spent the evening telling stories and showing nearly one hundred candid photographs of artists and concertgoers at Woodstock. His presentation was accompanied by a Berklee Student Ensemble performing songs from the festival.

On Saturday, the symposium saw a series of papers, two roundtables, and a performance by Berklee’s Sly and the Family Stone Ensemble. The first group of papers focused on Woodstock’s influence throughout the world: San Francisco, Central Europe and Colombia each served as a unique lens to gauge Woodstock’s impact. Later in the day, other papers focused on the countercultural origins of the festival and the gender parity of festival performers at Woodstock and beyond.

Interspersed with the academic papers on Saturday were two roundtables, featuring discussions with Michael Lang, the co-founder of the original Woodstock; Diltz, the official photographer; Chip Monck, the lighting designer and emcee; Rona Elliot, a public relations and outreach officer; Elliott Landy, another photographer; and Gerardo Valez, who played percussion during Jimi Hendrix’s set.

The second full day of the symposium centered on Hendrix, beginning with a performance by Berklee’s Jimi Hendrix Ensemble. Gerardo Valez played bongos with the students, before sitting down for a one-on-one interview about his experience playing with Hendrix at Woodstock. Three Hendrix-focused papers examined race through the lens of his Banner anthem, what life was like for Hendrix in the town of Woodstock itself, and how Hendrix’s ensembles shifted from the Jimi Hendrix Experience to the Band of Gypsys, which performed with Hendrix at Woodstock. The day was capped off with a keynote by Patrick Burke that examined the utopian ideas of Woodstock.

Most of the symposium sessions were live-streamed to the open web. Since admission to the symposium was free of charge, we were not concerned about this impacting our in-person attendance or revenue from the event. The greatest benefit was that the conversations between the Woodstock luminaries were recorded and will be preserved. Additionally, we anticipate publishing some of the presentations in the next year.  The streamed panels can be found at the symposium’s website,

The format of the symposium—combining academic presentations with performances and first-hand accounts of the festival—attracted a wider range of attendees than a traditional conference. In addition to the anticipated audience of scholars and academics, there was significant interest in the event from the general public and the Boston Globe selected the symposium as one of the top ten things to do that weekend.

Part of the interest in the symposium stemmed from the fact that this was the first convening of these Woodstock luminaries since the festival in 1969. And yet, while non-academic attendees may have been drawn to the event in order to hear the first-hand experiences, the impact of moving between different types of sessions meant that non-academics were exposed to scholarly work on the topic of Woodstock.

The format of Berklee’s Woodstock Symposium serves as a model for events that bridge the campus-community divide. Combining sessions of popular interest with more traditional academic presentations expands the audience base and potential reach of the gathering. While this format might not work for all conferences and symposia, our plan is to repeat it for future events and to continue to work on ways to connect what we research and teach with the larger community.

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Career Connections

Reba Wissner and Carolyn Bryant

The SAM Committee on Contingent Workers and Independent Scholars (CCWIS) is proud to announce our Career Connections resource. The aim of Career Connections is to facilitate information sharing among all SAM members. It recognizes SAM’s diversity as a strength: our members have a wide range of skills, and we can all learn from each other. The program moves beyond traditional mentorship models to serve as a resource for SAM members at any point in their work/career path, whether they are contemplating a change, looking for others doing work similar to theirs, or just seeking information.


Career Connections will be featured on the SAM website, where our team will match those interested with one of our resource people who will provide short-term, informative interactions around various topics relating to work/careers. Our resource people (a growing list) come from a variety of backgrounds and careers, and it is likely that anyone interested in a specific career will find a representative on the resource page.


There will be a Career Connections panel, featuring four of our resource people, with a breakout session at the upcoming conference in Minneapolis. We invite anyone interested in the program, either as a potential resource or as someone interested in using the program, to attend. If you have any questions about the committee or the program, please contact Reba Wissner or Carolyn Bryant.


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Journal of the Society for American Music

Volume 13, Number 4 (November 2019)

Special Issue on Music, Indigeneity, and Colonialism in the Americas

Jessica Bissett Perea and Gabriel Solis, co-editors


Asking the Indigeneity Question of American Music Studies

          Jessica Bissett Perea and Gabriel Solis



Nahenahe (Soft, Sweet, Melodious): Sounding Out Native Hawaiian Self-Determination

          Kevin A. Fellezs


“Little Dancing Indians”: Tradition and Utopian Listening in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

          Amanda M. Black


The Ch’ixi Blackness of Nacíon Rap’s Aymara Hip Hop

          Karl Swinehart


Joseph Johnson’s Lost Gamuts: Native Hymnody, Materials of Exchange, and the Colonialist Archive

          Glenda Goodman


Sonic Sovereignty: Performing Hopi Authority in Öngtupqa

          Trevor Reed


Book Reviews

Kristina M. Jacobsen, The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging

          Jada Watson

Josh Jun, editor, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles; Marisol Berríos-Miranda, Shannon Dudley, and Michelle Habell-Pallán, American Sabor: Latinos and Latinas in US Popular Music/Latinos y Latinas en la música popular estadounidense
          Erin E. Bauer

Micah E. Salkind, Do You Remember House?: Chicago’s Queer of Color Undergrounds
          Emily Kaniuka

Alex E. Chávez, Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño
          Sophia M. Enriquez

Jason Borge, Tropical Riffs: Latin America and the Politics of Jazz
          Marcelo Boccato Kuyumjian

Media Reviews

The Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra, Ryan Cockerham, conductor, Er-Gene Kahng, violin, Florence Price: Violin Concertos
          A. Kori Hill

Northwestern Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Mallory Thompson, conductor, Reflections
          Kate Storhoff

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Book Reviews

Book cover for Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, by Rashida K. Braggs.Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris. Rashida K. Braggs. University of California Press, 2016. 261pp. ISBN: 9780520279353. Paperback.

Robert W. Fry

Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris, by Rashida K. Braggs, examines the migratory patterns of jazz and jazz musicians from the United States to France in the years following World War II. In addition to providing a well-informed and supported examination and historization of the sound and role of postwar jazz in Paris, the author investigates the lives of the musicians who were there, the reasons for their personal and musical migrations, how they created and maintained careers within Paris, the influence of these performances on French culture and musicians, and the music’s meaning among performers and audiences. Through this investigation, Braggs explores the many ways jazz provided sonic and social spaces to create, perform, maintain, and transform individual and communal identity.

The introduction presents a strong overview of the topics examined throughout the book and places them within a strong, interdisciplinary body of academic literature. Braggs introduces the phrase “jazz diasporas,” which she uses to describe and examine cultural spaces in which negotiations over sound, identity, and meaning occur. These spaces manifest through two types of diaspora: the movement of performers and their musical collaborations and mentorship, and that of the music itself, which is ever-shifting in sound, meaning, and agency (5–6). The author’s interdisciplinary approach, combining musical, literary, media, and performance analyses of both interviews and archival documents, introduces new ideas that, like the music and performers examined in the book, build on preexisting ideas and structures. Through her collaboration with and extension of previous examinations, she leads the reader to reevaluate jazz and its meaning in post-World War II Paris and beyond.

One of the clearest and most important examples of Braggs’s skill at building on preexisting ideas is her extension of Amiri Baraka’s discussion of “blues people” to also include “jazz people,” which unfolds throughout the monograph. Braggs argues that while jazz is firmly connected to and should not be separated from African American musicians and experience, the genre’s reliance on technology, musicians’ migration and relocation, and the artform’s collaborative nature makes the music “inherently transnational” and therefore both “black and global.” This captures both the subject of and the research in Jazz Diasporas: Through a series of case studies, the author examines the collaborative and transnational nature of the jazz tradition as well as the genre’s role as a fluid space to create, shift, and perform identity, relationships, belonging, memory, and the imagination.

The study is bookended by chapters on two of the most recognizable musicians in the jazz canon: Sidney Bechet, a musician associated with some of the earliest jazz on record and in part responsible for the national and international dissemination of New Orleans music, and Kenny Clarke, whose experimentations in the 1940s helped transform the jazz genre and usher in bebop and the sounds of “modern jazz.” While many musicians visited and performed in Paris in the years following WWII, Bechet and Clarke went beyond merely performing for French audiences. Through migration and relocation, they became members and leaders of the French jazz scene, collaborating with French musicians and offering sonic spaces for French musicians and audiences to perform the role of jazz musicians and fans and ultimately become “jazz people.”

In chapter one, the author explores the ways Bechet performed “multiple subjectivities of Frenchness, Americanness, and African descent” to create geographical and sonic spaces for himself in Paris (29). Within these spaces, Bechet found acceptance and success as his performances of nationhood in conjunction with French expectations connected his multiple subjectivities while widening the jazz diaspora to include all those who listened and performed alongside him. In the final chapter, this widening is further examined using Clarke’s career, which the author suggests helped shift jazz from “black music” to “universal music” through his many collaborations and his role as a musical mentor. While Bechet’s performances of “authentic” jazz and the “authentic” jazz musician strengthened and emphasized the connection between French and African American performers and musical genres, it was Clarke’s collaborations that went beyond a performance of the expected. By including French musicians in the creative and performative process, Clarke transformed the music from an American genre performed in France to a “universal” music that included the French in a musical dialogue.

Between these opening and concluding chapters, the author gives us insight into this transformation using additional case studies. In chapter two, the reader is introduced to French performers René Urtreger, Martial Solal, and Claude Luter, and is provided with an overview of their musical collaborations with African American musicians Bechet and Clarke. The author discusses the performance of authenticity and its limiting effects on both American and French musicians—a barrier that is challenged through the collaborative nature of jazz, which provides a sonic and physical space to negotiate sound, identity, and meaning. Chapter three, a case study on musician Inez Cavanaugh, introduces the reader to a key but previously neglected figure in the Parisian jazz scene. A discussion of Cavanaugh’s life and career highlights reasons that African American musicians migrated to Paris and the importance that community holds in the midst of the movement and change inherent in diaspora. Chapter four further illustrates the author’s interdisciplinary approach, as Braggs moves away from performed jazz and blues to the genres’ inclusion in the literary works of James Baldwin and Boris Vian. During her analysis of key blues literary works, Braggs notes a relationship between these authors’ careers, further exemplifying the mobility, fluidity, and transnational nature of the jazz diaspora.

The case studies included in Jazz Diasporas document the place and function of jazz in postwar Paris, while providing insight into the lives of French and American musicians who used jazz as a sonic space to negotiate identity, community, authenticity, ownership, and meaning. Case studies are also linked through the larger and overarching theme and concept of jazz diaspora. The author addresses, examines, and extends this theme while introducing the reader to the multiple meanings embedded in jazz performance and consumption and the overarching questions of ownership, authenticity, and musical meaning—issues and questions that go beyond the scope of this book. Modern technology, human migration, and the fluidity of musical sound create an ever-changing global soundscape that increasingly challenges the limits of genre classification. Jazz Diasporas not only provides a wonderful set of case studies situated within post-WWII Paris, but the author’s discussion of authenticity, community, collaboration, meaning, and performance manifested through jazz diasporas also provides a theoretical framework for exploring ever-changing and always-moving sounds and the communities that compose, perform, and consume them.

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Book cover for Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” by Annegret Fauser.Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Annegret Fauser. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. 115pp. ISBN: 9780190646875. Hardcover.

Nate Ruechel

Annegret Fauser’s brief survey of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring (1944) offers an accessible window into one of the most iconic examples of musical Americana. The publication joins a growing body of scholarship that examines how particular historical and cultural circumstances shaped the creation of twentieth-century theatrical collaborations.1 The book presents an “archeology” of Appalachian Spring’s “material traces left from the original production,” while also addressing how shifts in American post-war public discourse reconfigured the significance of the ballet in America’s popular imagination (8). Drawing particular attention to collaborators generally ignored by musicologists and dance researchers—such as the set designer Isamu Noguchi and the dancer Yuriko Kikuchi—Fauser succinctly demonstrates how Appalachian Spring emerged as an essentially collective effort that generated “many layers of meaning” through a free interplay between abstract modernism and vernacular creativity (7). Written primarily for non-specialists and advanced undergraduates, this highly readable text provides a basic introduction to musical modernism in the United States that would benefit the student of American history, society, or culture as much as the curious listener.

Fauser’s text primarily addresses three areas of inquiry: the ballet’s collaborative genesis, the aesthetic components of the ballet’s 1958 film version, and the resonance of the ballet in American political and cultural discourse. Of particular interest is the discussion in chapter two of the ways in which a wartime ethos of national unity conditioned the contributions made by Copland and Noguchi. Copland’s music was in many ways grounded in sketches for his score to the film The North Star (1943). This project, which mediated an idealized image of Soviet heroism for American audiences, was composed concurrently with Appalachian Spring in 1943. Amidst growing nativist sentiments, Copland chose to deemphasize The North Star’s ostensibly Russian themes by discussing the score as an objective compositional exercise. By describing his music for The North Star as the product of disinterested manipulation, Copland remained in alignment with American, rather than Soviet, political interests, while also avoiding stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of his Eastern European and Jewish background. In contrast to Copland’s reservations about subjective expression, Noguchi’s abstract set design blended western modernism with “a formal language drawn from Japanese art,” in this case the basic geometric structures of the typical staging for Noh theater (44). Employed in an idealized American pastoral setting, Noguchi’s staging presents Japanese agency as a key component in an aesthetic of “democratic American pluralism.” This sort of artistic hybridity took on more than a shade of political subversion in the context of the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.

The critical reception of Appalachian Spring’s early performances serves as a starting point for chapter four. Here, Fauser examines the ways in which post-war discourses reconfigured the ballet’s political and cultural significance in the United States. Fauser identifies four common tropes: spring and youthfulness constructed as essential qualities of the American character, the Appalachian “frontier” viewed as a foundational national myth, the location of Appalachia in a heteronormative, white, and middle-class space, and praise for the ballet’s conventionality. This final trend is especially ironic given Copland’s leftist political sentiments and his association with the Popular Front during the 1930s, but it nevertheless foreshadowed the composer’s diminishing international status as a leading figure of the avant-garde following the war.2

Appalachian Spring’s embeddedness in America cultural imagination is discussed in chapter five. The ballet’s post-war reception “as a piece of joyful Americana” made it an ideal vehicle for cultural diplomacy (95). The State Department sponsored tours of the ballet in Asia in 1955 and 1974. These performances drew local responses that centered on the intersections between Asian art, Graham’s choreography (advertised as inspired by Eastern dance), and Noguchi’s set designs. The ballet’s cultural malleability thus made the work an ideal candidate for diplomatic missions.

In 1953, Copland’s work for the State Department was stalled due to an investigation by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activities into his past associations with leftist political organizations.3 Copland weathered the investigation and by the beginning of the 1960s the State Department was once again sponsoring his trips abroad as a cultural diplomat. During the 1970s Copland underwent a “conscious rebranding” as an apolitical Americanist, as exemplified in Copland Portrait, a USIA documentary produced for the bicentennial in 1976 (101). Copland’s newly fashioned position as an “apolitical voice of American culture” has led both liberal and conservative politicians to evoke the style of Appalachian Spring in their campaign advertisements (102). One peculiar example is a 2011 advertisement for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign titled “Strong.” The ad was critical of President Obama’s repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” stating that “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school” (103–4). The underscore for this homophobic rhetoric was a gentle arpeggio evocative of the opening lines of Appalachian Spring. Though many were quick to point out the irony of Perry’s reference to the work of a gay composer, his use of music written in the style of Copland’s ballet score speaks to the resonance of the image of America conjured in Appalachian Spring. In the ballet, Appalachia is represented as an “uninhabited land, free to be claimed by the pioneers” (89). This ethnically and culturally white space evoked the possibilities promised by the frontier, but these opportunities were ultimately limited to heteronormative white America. This homogenized view of the American countryside persists as one of Appalachian Spring’s most recognizable qualities.

Fauser’s effort at widening our view of Appalachian Spring’s circle of collaborators is commendable for its illumination of various artistic intersections, which can only be briefly summarized in this essay. Her emphasis on the ballet’s collaborative nature and its subsequent cultural imprints raises serious challenges to the work-concept, which has been historically associated in Western classical music with the single-authored score. Fauser’s analysis of the ballet in chapter three attempts to account for all of the contributions made by its collaborators, but more often than not the focus remains squarely on Copland’s music and its relationship to Graham’s choreography. Fauser analyzes the ballet’s 1958 film version, rather than the original Washington and New York performances, because the film is widely available.

The book’s companion webpage includes many of the primary documents that Fauser consulted. These resources constitute a particularly useful introduction to Copland research, and would benefit teachers and students of the history of music in the United States. The webpage’s basic design would be more engaging if audio files and links to the archives housing the resources displayed were included.

Fauser’s short text is an accessible retelling of the creation and subsequent reception of Appalachian Spring. Though it lacks any rigorous technical discussion, the book is a valuable guide to one of Copland’s most recognizable projects and could foreseeably serve as a springboard for more detailed research. Students and fans of classical music in the United States will find that this well-written text is both illuminating and thoroughly engaging.

 1See, for example, Mary Simonson, “Music in the Silent Era: The Collaborative Experiments of Visual Symphony Productions,” Journal of the Society for American Music 12, no. 1 (February 2018): 2–26; Dominic McHugh, “ ‘I’ll Never Know Exactly Who Did What’: Broadway Composers as Musical Collaborators,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 68, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 605–52; Dominic Symonds, We’ll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers and Hart (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
2See Elizabeth Crist, Music for the Common Man: Aaron Copland during the Depression and War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
3 For an overview of Copland’s biography during the McCarthy Era, see Jennifer DeLapp, “Copland in the Fifties: Music and Ideology in the McCarthy Era” (Phd diss., University of Michigan, 1997), 114–51; and Howard Pollack, Aaron Copland: Life and Work of an Uncommon Man (New York: Henry Holt, 1999), 451–60.


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In Remembrance

Michael Pisani: Peerless Teacher and Scholar, Pianist and Friend

Martin M. Marks

Michael Pisani 

I first met Michael when he was sojourning for several weeks one summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I don’t recall the precise year—a memory gap due partly to the seemingly timeless manner in which friendships between academics are often maintained. Moving from project to project and conference to conference, Michael and I crossed paths intermittently, but our friendship grew strong as we both pressed forward with our individual pursuits. Many others certainly knew Michael longer than I, and some surely have a better grasp of the details of his rich life overall. But I am eager to set down a short appreciation of the man I knew.

Michael had diverse talents, but it was his dedication to exhaustive scholarship that brought us together. Whenever the first meeting occurred, I know that he had come to Harvard to delve through the holdings of the Theater Collection in connection with his book on melodrama music. In doing so, he had sought out Professor John Ward (my former thesis advisor), because though John was by then emeritus, he indefatigably continued to purchase collections of rare materials pertaining to theatrical genres, which he donated (in floods of boxes) to Harvard’s Houghton and Pusey Libraries. The new Ward collections, along with many more that Harvard had previously acquired, brought Michael to Cambridge, and it was John who brought Michael and me together, hopeful that our overlapping research interests would lead to friendship. Of course John was right. The first meeting occurred over a lunch he hosted at the Harvard Faculty Club—a locale conducive to leisurely conversation—and from that meal budded our friendship.

From the beginning our conversations were stimulating and exciting, because Michael had the gift of both rapid and intelligent conversation. He could draw you out, because his modesty was enormous and unquestionably sincere: he always seemed to want to talk to me about my own work more than his. He made self-deprecation an art. Later I always had to prod him to tell me about how well he was doing at Vassar, or about his many diverse contributions to musicology, both public and professional. But he never really told me the whole story of what was going on, because he’d change the subject. More fun was to discuss, say, the movies we loved; and he displayed a disarmingly open gay sensibility, as well as a superb sense of talent and taste. To be sure, I was always more film-music cognizant (and movie-besotted) than he; but no matter where I took the conversation, he wanted to keep it going.

About five years ago, our casual friendship started to deepen. I believe that both of us felt a growing kinship and wanted to share more of our emotional selves, as well as to be franker about how we saw the work of others in our scholarly universe. Our times spent together became more frequent, at the AMS, SAM, and MAMI (Music and the Moving Image) conferences. Michael was never less than generous, but he did show an increasing hesitancy about some of the turns the “New” (New New? New New New?) Musicology was taking. But due to his frankness we had more fun, and the Rochester AMS meeting made him very happy, because it brought him back home, to his personal and academic roots.

Another happy event followed in March 2018: the “Musical Moments in Cinema” conference in Salzburg. Michael wanted to attend, even though he wasn’t reading a paper, as a kickoff to extended travel through Austria and Germany while he was on sabbatical. We arranged to stay at the same Gasthaus and planned to meet in Munich after arriving on different flights, so we could travel by train together to Salzburg, the day prior to the conference’s opening. But kerflooey! A snowstorm delayed my flight more than 36 hours. After that, what a relief it was to find him in Salzburg, fresh and eager for comradeship! In breaks from the conference we did some of the usual touristy things, and Michael put on another hat, that of a local guide. (He was able to find the ideal shop for echt Mozartkugel.) This was a world he loved, and when I left to return to Boston, he was about to shift his stay to a private residence out of the center of town, where he was going to be learning intensive conversational German. After that, for several more months, he moved on to other Austrian and German towns and cities. Some of this travel was research-based, but I got the feeling that he was mainly interested in having new adventures abroad—of finding new paths to explore, even while recalling earlier ones. For I know that at the time he had also begun working seriously on his own piano transcriptions of complex orchestral works by Richard Strauss and others. He seemed restless, but happily so.

But this allusion to his pianistic skills saddens me, because—typical of my friendship with Michael—I never actually heard him play. Was this due to his innate modesty—so strong!—or just because whenever we got together no piano was at hand? I do know that he didn’t talk much at first about those past years when he had worked in opera as a pianist and vocal coach. But he began to open up about that period during our last few times together, and I found out that he had many stories to tell!

The truth is, in recent years Michael and I wanted to get to know one another more fully, but were a bit inhibited from doing so by mutual discretion. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that if Michael could have been cast in a melodrama, he might have played the romantic hero, but he would be better cast as a true-blue brother or father figure. Is this casting fair? No doubt he was a truly good man, and (dare I say?) brave enough to get tenure and be revered by his colleagues.

As a scholar Michael left behind two fine path-breaking books (Imagining Native America in Music, 2005; Music for the Melodramatic Theatre in Nineteenth-Century London and New York, 2014), of vital use for both detailed and much-needed “maps” of the subjects and also for their well wrought analyses of many musical scores.

No less important: he left behind an indelibly etched memory of as sweet and un egotistical a human being as one could possibly be.

Michael, you are missed! We thank you—that is, I thank you—for your friendship, as well as for your sensitivity, sagacity, and subtlety. You kept your brilliance under wraps, but it will long shine warm and bright.

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The Bulletin Board

Daniel Adams 

Daniel Adams delivered a presentation at the annual conference of the Macro Analysis Creative Research Association at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, WI on June 15. The presentation was focused on Hugo Wolf’s setting of Eduard Möricke’s Das verlassene Mägdlein as a pedagogical resource for the study of advanced harmonic analysis. Adams also delivered a lecture on his composition Eulerian Circles for unaccompanied alto saxophonein conjunction with its performance by saxophonist Trevor Davis at the New Music on the Bayou Festival in West Monroe, Louisiana on June 6.

Three compositions by Adams were released on CDs during the first half of 2019: Solstice Introspect for vibraphone trio was recorded at Springs Theatre Studio by members of the McCormick Percussion Group (Robert McCormick, Director) and released on the Navona Records CD Sustain; Serpentine Glow for bass flute was recorded by flautist Iwona Glinka at Subway Recording Studios in Athens, Greece and released on a Phasma-Music CD entitled HE; and Congruent Verses for English Horn solo was recorded by oboist Andrew Nogal at Windy Apple Studios in River Forrest, IL and released on an Ablaze Records CD entitled Millennial Masters Volume 9.

Peter H. Bloom 

Flutist Peter H. Bloom showcased American music in Spring and Summer concerts across New England. In honor of Duke Ellington’s 120th birthday, Bloom performed multiple shows of Ellingtonia with pianist John Funkhouser in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bloom and the Aardvark Jazztet performed at Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, giving the premiere of director Mark Harvey’s Consecration, a tribute to Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Bloom’s other jazz shows featured hits from the Great American Songbook with The Modernistics in Maine and Massachusetts, and concerts in Boston’s Post Office Square summer series.

Bloom and his chamber music trio Ensemble Aubade performed for the Sounds in the Sanctuary Series in Bethlehem, NH and the Caspian Monday Music series in northern Vermont, showcasing Oxygen Footprint (2016), written for Aubade by Karl Henning, and Seven Postcards to Old Friends (1966) by Robert Russell Bennett. In concerts with the Karl Henning Ensemble, Bloom premiered works by American composers Henning, Timothy Bowlby, and Pamela Marshall. In fall 2019, Bloom will mark his 44th season with The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra as the band performs sacred music by Duke Ellington and premieres by Mark Harvey. 

Dr. Donna Coleman, pianist, producer, and author, has returned to the United States following a twenty-year appointment in Australia as Head of Keyboard at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. She continues her unflagging commitment to American music around the world in concerts and recordings (including two discs of Charles Ives’s music for Etcetera records, two discs of Ragtime for ABC Classics, and her own label, OutBach®, released the complete Danzas Cubanas by Ignacio Cervantes and The Lost Lady featuring Rags by William Albright, William Bolcom, Edmund Cionek, and other repertoire). She recently began producing what is proving to be an annual music festival in Santa Fe, NM. In 2018, the three-concert series The OutBach® Festival of [Mostly] American Music featured the music of Charles Ives, whose work she has championed in performances and recordings for fifty years. On October 22, 24, and 26 of this year, The OutBach® Festival of [Mostly] Womens’ Music celebrates the 200th birthday of Clara Wieck, with performances of works by her, by American women composers Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, Ruth Porter Crawford, and by Composers-in-Residence Jane Brockman (Los Angeles, CA) and Laura Clayton (Hancock, NH). Coleman is joined by her colleagues in The Emerson Trio—Endre Balogh, violinist and Antony Cooke, cellist (also a member of the Society for American Music)—for these and other concerts, including an annual performance for the “Sundays Live” series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, live-streamed via the internet. For more information, contact

The Concord Trio plays Ives’s Trio at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Sundays Live” in September 2017

Book cover for So You Want to Sing Music by Women by Matthew Hoch and Linda ListerDuring the 2018–19 academic year, Matthew Hoch’s book, So You Want to Sing Music by Women, was published by NATS and Rowman & Littlefield. This book was coauthored with Linda Lister from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He also published articles in the American OrganistAmerican Music TeacherJournal of SingingChoral JournalThe Hymn, and the Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music. Hoch also gave recitals and master classes at a number of universities, including Iowa State University, Coe College, the University of Northern Iowa, Mississippi State University, Berry College, Covenant College, Vanderbilt University, Judson College, Arkansas State University, Missouri State University, St. Norbert’s College, and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In May of 2019, he toured the maritime provinces of Canada—giving recitals in Halifax, Charlottetown, and Fredericton—and sang the bass solos in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Chattanooga Bach Choir.

In the September issue of Notes, David Hunter has published an article titled “Handel Manuscripts and the Profits of Slavery: The ‘Granville’ Collection at the British Library and the First Performing Score of Messiah Reconsidered.” While this may not at first (or even second) glance appear to have anything to do with music in the Americas, the monies used to purchase this collection and particular manuscript in the twentieth and nineteenth centuries, respectively, came from profits derived from the slave-worked plantations in the West Indies (Caribbean). The article is a small piece from David’s on-going project on the linkages between music and slavery in the Anglo-Atlantic 1600–1800.

The International Society for Research and Promotion of Wind Music (IGEB) is pleased to invite submissions of proposals, posters, or lecture-performances for the 24th International Conference on Wind Music, to be held in Valencia (Spain) July 23–27, 2020, at “Joaquín Rodrigo” Conservatoire of Valencia and, for the last day, the Societat Musical Santa Cecilia d’Alcàsser. The main theme of this conference (“Wind Music: Providing Education & Building Society, Culture, and Identity”) is the relevance of military and civilian bands in education and their role in building society, music culture, and identity. In addition, we also welcome proposals exploring other approaches to wind music, including research in progress. Deadline: January 31, 2020. Abstract (250 words) and brief CV should be submitted by e-mail to the Chair of the Scientific Committee, Gloria A. Rodríguez-Lorenzo  ( with copy to Doris Schweinzer ( Accepted papers will be notified by April 1, 2020. The official languages of the conference will be English, German, Spanish, and Valencià. The organizers encourage PowerPoint presentations in English. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes, leaving 10 minutes for discussion. The organizers will consider papers for future publications in the Alta Musica series. Presenters are expected to be members of IGEB. Registration materials and further information may be found at and in the IGEB Mitteilungsblatt.

In late May, the jazz studies department of the University of Pittsburgh published the second issue of the scholarly journal Jazz and Culture. The publication is a continuation of the previous “International Jazz Archives Journal,” founded by Nathan Davis in the early 1990s, and features a mix of scholarship, oral history, poetry, and book and media reviews. The issue features work by Kimberley Teal, Gretchen Carlson, Vanessa Blais-Tremblay, interviews with Max Roach, Marion Brown, and Bill Dixon, poetry by Amaud Jamaul Johnson, and several reviews of recent books. The new issue is available to subscribers at:

Thomas J. Kernan

Thomas J. Kernan, Roosevelt University Assistant Professor of Music History received the 2019–20 Newberry Library Rudolph Ganz Long-term Fellowship in support of his project, “Concert Activity, Experience, and Identity: Rudolph Ganz and the Midwestern Concert Hall, from the Postwar to the Present.”

Elise Kirk has received four major awards for her most recent book, Music at the White House: From the 18th to the 21st Centuries (White House Historical Association, 2017). These include a silver medal in history from the distinguished Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Elise received her Ph.D. in musicology from Catholic University of America. She is the author of American Opera, co-editor of Opera and Vivaldi and writes for Opera News, White House History, American Music, and numerous other publications. By presidential appointment, Elise Kirk served on the National Advisory Board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She continues to lecture frequently, most recently at Catholic University and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Elise is a 40-year member of SAM.

"A Little Bit Hot Tonight" by Betty Davis

Funk pioneer Betty Davis, in collaboration with Danielle Maggio, has written, produced and released her first new song in forty years. In addition to being known as the former wife and creative collaborator of Miles Davis, Betty Davis has earned both cult status and worldwide praise for her unapologetic sound and style that shocked audiences in the 1970s. Maggio, a Ph.D. candidate writing her dissertation on Davis, provides lead vocals on the song. The end result is “A Little Bit Hot Tonight”: a sultry pop-hybrid of soul, blues, Latin and jazz that speaks to the musical spirit of fusion that defines Davis as a songwriter. The song is available for download and purchase on bandcamp. All proceeds go to the Betty Davis Scholarship, an annual award set up by Maggio and Davis for a graduating senior who is pursuing music at Steel Valley High School (Ms. Davis’s alma mater).

Book cover for Vincent Persichetti: Grazioso, Grit, and Gold, by Andrea OlmsteadAndrea Olmstead’s seventh book, Vincent Persichetti; Grazioso, Grit, and Gold, has been published by Rowman & Littlefield, and was awarded the 2019 Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography from the ASCAP Foundation as part of their Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Awards. The first life and works of Vincent Persichetti (1915–87), it clocks in at 511 pages with 110 music examples, photographs, and a map. Commentary from notable performers—C. Matthew Balensuela, Geoffrey Burleson, Mirian Conti, Andrew Mast, and Larry Thomas Bell—provide musical and analytical insights. (SAM Members can insert the promotion code RLFANDF30 at for a 30% discount.)

The author of Juilliard: A History (University of Illinois Press), Olmstead was asked by the James Loeb Gesellschaft in Murnau to contribute a chapter, “James Loeb and Juilliard,” to the recent book on the philanthropist and school’s founder. James Loeb is published by the German publisher Hirmer and distributed by the University of Chicago Press. It appears in both German and facing-page English, as is done in Loeb’s famous Loeb Classical Library. St. Botolph Club of Boston—the First 125 Years; from 1880 to 2005, edited by Buell Hollister, lavishly illustrated, and released in January by the University Press of New England, contains Olmstead’s chapter “Music and Musicians” that outlines the musical life of the club. Olmstead gave a paper entitled “Dueling Concerts at Richard Nixon’s Second Inauguration” at the AMS-NE Spring Chapter Meeting on April 27, 2019, at the College of the Holy Cross. For information on her other books, including four on Roger Sessions, visit her Amazon author page.

Mather Pfeiffenberger produced and hosted an annual Independence Day nine-hour program of American music from Harvard’s radio station WHRB ( on July 4, 2019. The program focused on American works conducted by Leonard Bernstein and some rarities among Bernstein’s own works to close out the Bernstein centennial, as well as commemorations of American composer anniversaries and historical events. The Bernstein-conducted selections included works by Edward Burlingame Hill, Charles Ives, David Diamond, Lukas Foss, William Russo, Samuel Barber, William Schuman, Howard Brubeck, Peter Mennin, and Harold Shapero. Bernstein rarities included a 1947 recording of his arrangement of Simchu-Na by Matiyahu Weiner conducted by Victor Young. Composer anniversaries included Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Ron Nelson, Horatio Parker, Victor Herbert, Andre Previn, Will Marion Cook, Walter Piston, Michael Tilson Thomas, Vernon Duke, and Pete Seeger. There were also sequences commemorating the 100th anniversary of Prohibition, the 80th anniversaries of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial Recital and the New York World’s Fair, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and the 50th anniversaries of President Eisenhower’s death and the Apollo 11 moon landing. The complete playlist can be found here. For next year’s broadcast on July 4, 2020, he plans to feature music of American women composers to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the US.

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The Bulletin of the Society for American Music

The Bulletin is published in the Winter (January), Spring (May), and Fall (September) by the Society for American Music. Copyright 2019 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.

Editorial Board

Editor: Ryan Ebright
Reviews Editor: Katie Hollenbach
Media Editor: Alfredo Colman
Design and Layout: Jessica Getman

Items for submission should be submitted via the Bulletin's information page. Photographs or other graphic materials should be accompanied by captions and desired location in the text. Deadlines for submission of materials are 15 December, 15 April, and 15 August.

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