The history of music in the USA is quite different from that in Europe.  The Pilgrim fathers took their English monophonic hymns with them when they settled New England, and they discouraged instruments and richly elaborate music in their churches.  However, secular music grew and flourished, not under the patronage of wealthy aristocrats, but on strictly commercial lines, responding to the public demand, to the music marketplace.

In the 19th century, musical concerts by outdoor and indoor wind-bands became a major form of entertainment. Pre-eminent in this movement was John Philip Sousa.  Stephen Foster was a composer of popular songs which are extremely popular to this very day, regarded as part of American folk-music, although it is composed music. In New York, the Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883, and today it is one of the most famous opera theatres in the world.   Edward McDowell emerged as a composer of beautiful piano works with an American flavour. 

Aaron Copland started trying to write avant-garde art music in the abstract style of many 20th century European composers, but without aristocratic or state patronage, the music marketplace made him change his style. Subsequently he has captured American vitality in works such as Appalachian Spring, and Fanfare for the Common Man.

The influence on music in the USA of the black Americans who descended from the African slaves cannot be over-emphasized. Their music has evolved from early spirituals, through blues songs, ragtime piano tunes, and Dixieland jazz, to Big band music and a huge influence on today's popular music. Scott Joplin is the most famous composer of ragtime piano music, still widely played today.  George Gershwin is a great American composer who was equally capable of writing hit popular songs, and more serious works, such as his opera Porgy and Bess.