Dan­ger­ous Melodies: Clas­si­cal Music in Amer­i­ca from the Great War through the Cold War

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2013

A Juil­liard-trained musi­cian and pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry explores the fas­ci­nat­ing entan­gle­ment of clas­si­cal music with Amer­i­can for­eign rela­tions in Dan­ger­ous Melodies. It vivid­ly evokes a time when clas­si­cal music stood at the cen­ter of Amer­i­can life, occu­py­ing a promi­nent place in the nation’s cul­ture and pol­i­tics. The work of renowned con­duc­tors, instru­men­tal­ists, and singers – and the activ­i­ties of orches­tras and opera com­pa­nies – were inter­twined with momen­tous inter­na­tion­al events: two world wars, the rise of fas­cism, and the Cold War.

Jonathan Rosen­berg recov­ers the pol­i­tics behind clas­si­cal music, show­ing how Ger­man musi­cians were dis­missed or impris­oned as the country’s music was swept from Amer­i­can audi­to­ri­ums dur­ing World War I – yet, twen­ty years lat­er, those same com­po­si­tions could inspire Amer­i­cans in the fight against Nazism while Russ­ian music was deployed to strength­en the U.S.-Soviet alliance. 

In Dan­ger­ous Melodies, Rosen­berg delves into the sin­gu­lar decades-long rela­tion­ship of clas­si­cal music and polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy in America.

Discussion Questions