Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

George Whitefield Chadwick and the American vernacular in his chamber works
by White, Kathryn JoAnn, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2012, 235; 3552600
Abstract (Summary)

George Whitefield Chadwick incorporated American-sounding material in his chamber works during a time when Americans came to value nationalism in the nineteenth century. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Americans conceived of the United States as a single nation rather than as a collection of sovereign states, and many composers sought to create a national music. American music became infused with meaningful potential to symbolize nationhood. Chadwick's musical language encompassed diverse styles, ranging from elements he picked up from the German classical and Romantic traditions to elements identified with American musical styles. Scholarly and critical writings about Chadwick at first emphasized the German aspects of Chadwick's biography and music, particularly in addressing his large-scale works. The Bostonian Chadwick fully embraced German traditions, as did many of his contemporaries, particularly in light of the German aesthetic and intellectual principles of Kunstreligion and Bildung. For example, the Boston critic John Sullivan Dwight epitomized these ideals in his transcendentalist writings in the second half of the nineteenth century. Chadwick, too, adopted such language in speeches, reviews, participation in music festivals, editorial committees, personal letters, and ads for the New England Conservatory, which he directed from 1897 to 1931. In addition to his appreciation for German aesthetic ideals, Chadwick was also an active promoter of American music and a homegrown American music tradition. Over recent decades scholars have been increasingly receptive to acknowledging Americanisms in his music. Detailed musical analysis of Chadwick's chamber music shows that he fully draws on European traditions as much as he wholeheartedly includes Americanisms. He skillfully incorporates Americanisms and American topical gestures into a quintessentially European genre. In essence, Chadwick simultaneously invokes the foundations of his European training, influenced by European aesthetics that shaped the Boston musical scene, together with material that American audiences appreciated.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burkholder, J. Peter
Commitee: Goldberg, Halina, Magee, Jeffrey, Wennerstrom, Mary
School: Indiana University
Department: Musicology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Music, Aesthetics
Keywords: Aesthetics, American chamber music, Americanism, Chadwick, George Whitefield, Leipzig Conservatory, New England Conservatory
Publication Number: 3552600
ISBN: 978-1-267-91138-4
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