United States of America
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.
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.