Music in America

December 5, 1956

Report Outline
Surge of Interest in Serious Music
Role of Federal Government in Music
American Music's Financial Problems

Surge of Interest in Serious Music

A ccolades won abroad by America's musical “ambassadors of good will” give abundant evidence of the growing stature of American music in the eyes of the world. Not many years ago Americans were looked upon in foreign countries as an unmusical people. Their unique contribution of jazz in the field of popular music was recognized, but on the whole the people of the United States were believed to lack discrimination, creativity, or any wish to foster serious music.

Today American performers and the works of American composers are heard and acclaimed on every continent, due largely to government sponsorship of cultural exchange programs in which music has been given an important place. At home musical activity abounds, not only in metropolitan areas with large populations of recent European origin, but also in smaller places where the professional concert series, the local symphony orchestra and choral group, and numerous student and amateur ensembles have become parts of community life. The American concert stage is no longer dominated by imported stars; gifted young Americans can receive the best of musical training in their own country and their native origin is no barrier to public acceptance.

At the same time, the fact that the United States has not yet developed a system of remuneration that enables musical artists and composers to pursue their careers on a basis of equality with talented men and women in other fields has troubled many observers. Despite the widespread popular support for serious music, the great majority of American musicians can scarcely earn a living by music alone.

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