Cover image for American music in the twentieth century
American music in the twentieth century
Gann, Kyle.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Schirmer Books ; London : Prentice Hall International, [1997]

Physical Description:
xvi, 400 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Prelude : What is American music? -- Forefathers -- Ultramodernism-- the 1920s -- Populism-- the 1930s -- Experimentalism -- Atonality and European influence -- John Cage and the New York School revolution -- Post-Cage conceptualism -- Minimalism -- New tonality 1-- the new Romanticism -- Electronic music -- Interfaces with rock and jazz -- New tonality 2-- postminimalism -- Totalism and the 1990s.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML200.5 .G36 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Kyle Gann examines the characteristic sounds of the diverse movements in American art music from Charles Ives to the present day. He sketches the changing social and cultural contexts of American concert music through the study of representative works of music and key individuals.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

With this book, Gann (Bard College), a composer and music critic, can assert his claim to be a historian. Tracing a path for an indigenous art music through the labyrinth of 20th-century music culture, the author tackles the question of what is "American" about US music. He finds the answer in the experimental tradition emanating from early-20-century composers Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, and Henry Cowell, carried on through mid century by Harry Partch, Conlon Nancarrow, the John Cage group, and waxing into the minimalism of the 1970s, postminimalism of the '80s, and "totalism" of the '90s. Like David H. Cope (New Directions in Music, 1971; 4th ed., 1984), Gann focuses on composers and is skillful in explaining their works in terms that lay readers can understand. However, the book also addresses social conditions that have influenced American music, particularly the avant-garde, and is thus a good companion to Catherine M. Cameron's Dialectics in the Arts: The Rise of Experimentalism in American Music (CH, Mar'97). Although nonexperimental and European-influenced composers do not fit his "American" criterion, Gann's balanced history also includes the "populists" of the 1930s and '40s (e.g., Copland, Harris, Thomson), the atonalists the '50s and '60s (e. g., Sessions, Babbitt, Carter), and the new romanticism of the 1970s and '80s (e. g., Crumb, Adams, Druckman). A solid choice for general readers, upper-division undergraduates, and graduate students. W. K. Kearns University of Colorado at Boulder

Table of Contents

Prelude: What is American Music
1 Forefathers
2 Ultramodernism-the 1920s
3 Populism-the 1930s
4 Experimentalism
5 Atonality and European Influence
6 John Cage and the New York School Revolution
7 Post-Cage Conceptualism
8 Minimalism
9 New Tonality 1-The New Romanticism
10 Electronic Music
11 Interfaces with Rock and Jazz
12 New Tonality 2-Postminimalism
13 Tatalism and the 1990s