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Products for grant FA-53011-07

San Francisco's Musical Life, 1906-45
Leta Miller, Regents of the University of California, Santa Cruz

Grant details:

Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War (Book)
Title: Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War
Author: Leta E Miller
Abstract: San Francisco’s musical life in the period 1900–1940 was marked by virulent expressions of partisanship counterbalanced by a utopian vision that inspired its most successful cultural endeavors. These competing ideologies played out in the founding of the San Francisco Symphony (1911) and Opera (1923), and in the two-decade-long effort to build the country’s first municipally-owned opera house. Racism appeared as an unflattering element of the local scene: in the derision directed at the Chinese and in the competition between African-American and white musicians for jobs in night clubs, which resulted in a legal battle that reverberated nationally. Similar tensions characterized the WPA’s Federal Music Project during the Depression: public disagreements between administrators and artists threatened to undermine idealistic efforts to provide jobs for unemployed musicians. The utopian strain weaves a competing strand through these battles. Among its most idealistic advocates was composer Ernest Bloch (for five years director of the San Francisco Conservatory), who promoted cross-cultural and inter-religious exchange. A similar vision appears in the Asian-Western syntheses and interdisciplinary artistic collaborations of Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison; in the adventurous new music scene of the 1930s, which presaged developments elsewhere in the country; and in two world fairs (1915 and 1939/40) that celebrated California’s beauty and diversity while war raged in Europe.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: This lively history immerses the reader in San Francisco’s musical life during the first half of the twentieth century, showing how a fractious community overcame virulent partisanship to establish cultural monuments such as the San Francisco Symphony (1911) and Opera (1923). Leta E. Miller draws on primary source material and first-hand knowledge of the music to argue that a utopian vision counterbalanced partisan interests and inspired cultural endeavors, including the San Francisco Conservatory, two world fairs, and America’s first municipally owned opera house. Miller demonstrates that rampant racism, initially directed against Chinese laborers (and their music), reappeared during the 1930s in the guise of labor unrest as WPA music activities exploded in vicious battles between administrators and artists, and African American and white jazz musicians competed for jobs in nightclubs.
Publisher: University of California Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 97805202