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Making Music ModernNew York in the 1920s$
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Carol J. Oja

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195058499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195058499.001.0001

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Modernism and the “Jazz Age”

Modernism and the “Jazz Age”

(p.313) 19 Modernism and the “Jazz Age”
Making Music Modern

Carol J. Oja

Oxford University Press

Jazz was the single most discussed musical genre of the United States during the 1920s, coming to represent the decade as a whole. The “Jazz Age” evoked rapid mechanization and the giddy good life of America's more high-rolling citizens, as much as it did a particular genre of music. For American modernist composers, increased pluralism expanded the repertory of available sound sources, and their “eclectic breeding” became a vital component in shaping modernism in the New World. Jazz was the non-European music with the greatest impact on composers of modernist music. Aside from contributing materials to new music, it provided a much-desired musical link to cultures thought to be “primitive”, whether those of the African continent or the American South. It also appeared to be one of the most effective ways in which American composers might gain long-desired acceptance in Western Europe. The vogue for jazz among American concert composers reached its peak between 1924 and 1926, yet it had ongoing implications profoundly affecting the musical language of Americans for decades to come.

Keywords:   jazz, United States, Western Europe, modernism, modernist music, composers, The Jazz Age, new music, concert music

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