Composer Howard Hanson played a pivotal role in both the development and promotion of American concert music in the twentieth century. Born in Wahoo, Nebraska, to Swedish immigrants, Hanson grew up surrounded by people who followed Swedish customs (including folk song and dance), yet exhibited strong feelings of American patriotism. Hanson's earliest works, left unpublished, display the influence of Swedish folk music traditions in either direct quotation or stylistic imitation.
As the winner of the first American Prix de Rome, Hanson traveled to Italy to study at the American Academy, affording him the opportunity to travel for the first time to Sweden. While in Europe Hanson wrote some of his most important compositions, including the Scandinavian-inspired First Symphony ("Nordic") and the symphonic poem North and West. The former pulls heavily from Swedish folk music, and the latter is autobiographical, representative of the composer's identity struggles as he explored the role his heritage should play in what he increasingly realized was Americanist music.
After he assumed the directorship of the Eastman School of Music, a position he held for forty years, Hanson's music lost explicit programmatic elements inspired by Scandinavia. Hanson wrote hundreds of articles and speeches about the importance of furthering American music, became a community leader in Rochester and on a national level, and transformed Eastman into a vital center for the promotion of American composers. His affinity for Swedish music continued to be an important factor in his compositional process, as evidenced by his Third Symphony and the popular comparison of his music to that of Jan Sibelius. Despite this association Hanson is remembered as a transformative figure in American music.
|Commitee:||Buchler, Michael, Seaton, Douglass|
|School:||The Florida State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||MAI 51/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||American studies, Music|
|Keywords:||Hanson, Howard, Immigrants, Nationalism, Sweden, Symphonies|
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