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This study investigates the influence of the major American radio networks on music, especially new compositions specifically written for broadcast. It focuses on two initiatives by the networks--NBC's Orchestral Awards (1932) and CBS's Columbia Composers' Commissions (1937-1938)--as examples through which the networks directly influenced the creative activities of the nation. One of the major issues in this study is the influence of technology on compositional style. Aaron Copland utilized a new "radiogeneric" orchestration in his Music for Radio (1937), based on what was promoted by music directors at CBS: Davidson Taylor and Deems Taylor. They thought that composers should cultivate the possibilities of the electronic medium as an integral aspect in their orchestral writing. According to these directors, amplification of the sound with the use of the microphone was unique to radio, and specific elements of orchestration, such as the use of muted brass sounds, was also important as these sounds would be more effectively reproduced by the contemporary radio receivers. Other composers skillfully formulated a form of music based on various radio productions. William Grant Still composed Lenox Avenue, a continuous music narrative of Harlem combining instruments with a narrator, using a the form he employed in the radio program "Deep River Hour." Louis Gruenberg wrote "non-visual opera" titled Green Mansions, using various musical sounds, including the theremin, to evoke imagination to cover than lacking visual component of the radio opera. Howard Hanson, on the other hand, simply presented his Third Symphony without any radiogeneric features. This study also examines the social and cultural context that made it possible for radio directors to promote commissions and competitions for American composers. The discussion of the cultural context is viewed in the contemporary dichotomy of "highbrow" and "lowbrow," which can clarify the cultural tension between radio directors, educators, and listeners. The discussion of the social context examines network radio as a patron, and its influence on actual radio compositions, including the question of accessible musical styles and nationalism. Marc Blitzstein's I've Got the Tune is analyzed as a social commentary and a reflection of his contemporary society.
A Dissertation Submitted to the School of Music in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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