New book considers World War II’s aesthetic impact on classical music in America and Europe

Posted on: April 25, 2022

“World War II resulted in the death of tens of millions of people. Conductor John Mauceri says classical music was one of the war’s less-discussed casualties,” writes Jeremy Reynolds in Thursday’s (4/21) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Mauceri, former conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra as well as Pittsburgh Opera, has written a book exploring war’s effect on European and American musical development … ‘The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century.’ … Mauceri’s premise is simple and intriguing: After Europe’s great composers fled to America during the war, Europe turned its back on them while America turned up its nose at classical music’s European roots. Many of these displaced composers were forced to make their living composing for film, television and Broadway…. Americans came to identify serialism and the avant-garde with being anti-Nazi and leaned into those sub-genres…. The musical trajectory of the 20th century is one of slow separation between classical music and the public… Mauceri’s book [argues] that it’s time to admit the mistakes caused by war and ensuing nationalism and reevaluate much of the music of the last 100 years. ‘I wanted to tell a story of continuity,’ he said.”