Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Martin, George W. Opera at the Bandstand: Then and Now. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, 2014.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, opera selections have had an important place in the repertoire for concert bands, but the recent trend in concert bands away from playing opera transcriptions has been detrimental to the popularity of opera in America. In the 1830s, opera tunes became a dominant genre of popular music thanks to performances by military, civic, and professional concert bands, which represented a significant portion of the music consumed by the public throughout the 1800s. The first celebrity bandleader was Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, who gained national fame in 1872 organizing music for the National Peace Jubilee after the Civil War. Through the late nineteenth century, Gilmore organized a private band with varied programs that included operatic transcriptions. Taking Gilmore’s place in the public spotlight around the turn of the century was John Philip Sousa, who also programmed a variety of music including modern opera repertoire like Richard Wagner. After Sousa’s death in 1932, nationally touring bands of that scale became a thing of the past, especially with the rise of radio and sound recording. While a few professional bands, like the Goldman Band, remained through the mid-twentieth century, performing a traditional mix of music including operatic repertoire, collegiate bands began to replace them as the dominant concert band force. Collegiate bands, especially those modelled on Frederick Fennell’s Eastman Wind Ensemble, began programming more original works for band and distanced themselves from operatic transcriptions. Without the widespread performance of opera by bands, its popularity in American declined.

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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