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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: January 2013

10 - German Musical Influences in the United States


In any discussion of German-American musical relations, it is important to bear in mind that any German influence on American musical life following World War II had a long prehistory. As early as the eighteenth century, American audiences were well acquainted with the works of German composers; at the turn of the nineteenth century, German immigrants started to establish symphonic and choral organizations; and the wave of German immigration beginning in 1848 brought a host of performers and educators, German music publishers, and German soloists and conductors who laid the foundations for conservatories, chamber-music performance, symphonic music, opera, and amateur choral activity. A brief surge of nationalism during World War I focused new attention on American composers, and certain conductors made an effort to incorporate more American, French, and Russian art music into their programs, but works of the great German masters still constituted the standard repertoire. Even at the height of World War II, a music lover's handbook published in New York in 1943 guided its readers toward understanding a concert repertoire dominated by the works of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, and even Richard Strauss, at the time the most prominent living composer in Hitler's Germany.