Better Git It in Your Soul Wins ‘Jazz Book of the Year’ Award

Congratulations to Krin Gabbard on winning the Jazz Journalists Association‘s 2017 ‘Jazz Book of the Year’ for Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus.

In addition to this significant recognition, Gabbard’s book has garnered praise from many corners:

“Will likely long stand as the definitive account of the genius, and enigma, that was this great bassist, bandleader, and composer. Certainly no one has heretofore delved as deeply and thoroughly into what made him tick.”—W. Royal Stokes Blog

“‘Better Git It In Your Soul draws the reader to listening to its subject’s productions. If already familiar with Mingus’ music, a reader may return to favorites with fresh ears and deeper insights. . . . Gabbard’s greatest personal contribution to understanding Mingus is his contextualization of events through his own broad, well-informed perspective.”—DownBeat

“Offers several lenses through which to view Mingus and his music. . . . There is much in Better Git It In Your Soul to limn one’s understanding of and approach to Mingus’ tremendous body of work as well as the challenges he faced and orchestrated as a black artist in America.”—The New York City Jazz Record

“This is a wonderful book! This book completely absorbed me. . . . You really took me in with your own emotional palette.”—NPR/On Point with Tom Ashbrook

“This isn’t simply a new telling of Mingus’ life story, although Gabbard does an excellent job of that in just under 100 concise and nicely paced pages. Gabbard also takes a deep dive into specific aspects of Mingus’ output. Most notably, he performs forensic work in exploring how Beneath the Underdog came to be.”—PopMatters

To get yourself a copy of this keeper, save 30% by entering discount code 16M4197 at checkout.


Krin Gabbard retired after thirty-three years of teaching at Stony Brook University, and he now teaches in the jazz studies program at Columbia University. His previous books include Hotter than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture and Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema. He lives in New York City with his wife, Paula, and he is busy playing his trumpet and writing a memoir about his parents.


30 Fantastic Books for the Mother in Your Life — from the Art Lover to the News Junkie

We’ve compiled a list of recommended reads for the mother figure in your life — whether her interests lie in cultural artifacts or the 24-hour news cycle, Hollywood backlot backstories or intriguing historical tales. This list could be for any reader in your life — and that’s fine, too! — but when we typically think of a mother, these words come to mind: creator (and creative), teacher, protector. We think this reading list embodies those traits. Enjoy!

For the Art Lover

Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll edited by Jill D’Alessandro and Colleen Terry, with essays by Victoria Binder, Dennis McNally, and Joel Selvin

Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell by Arden Reed

Of Dogs and Other People: The Art of Roy De Forest by Susan Landauer

Ed Ruscha and the Great American West edited by Karin Breuer, with contributions from D.J. Waldie and Ed Ruscha

For the Cinephile

Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles by Jon Lewis

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp

Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Alfred Hitchcock, edited by Sidney Gottlieb

Hellboy’s World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins by Scott Bukatman

For the Music Aficionado

Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation
by Ulf Olsson, edited by Nicholas Meriwether

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s by Michael C. Heller

Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus by Krin Gabbard

Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song by Ronnie Gilbert

For the Literary Bookworm

Thoreau and the Language of Trees by Richard Higgins, with a foreword by Robert D. Richardson 

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro 

Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 by Mark Twain

A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov by Donna Hollenberg

For the Wine Connoisseur

French Wine: A History by Rod Phillips

I Taste Red: The Science of Tasting Wine by Jamie Goode

Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine by Bill Nesto and Frances Di Savino

Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright, and Dry by John Winthrop Haeger

For the History Buff

A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict by Gershon Shafir

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror by Eric Stover, Victor Peskin, and Alexa Koenig

The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology by Aldon Morris

Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans  by Corey D. Fields

How Would You Rule: Legal Puzzles, Brainteasers, and Dilemmas from the Law’s Strangest Cases by Daniel W. Park

For the News Junkie

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary by Ronald Rael

The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11 by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other by Mugambi Jouet

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger

In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte by David Bacon


UC Press Music Journals Celebrate American Music

As musicologists gather in Montreal for the Society for American Music conference, UC Press’s music journals are pleased to make select content available to non-subscribers for a limited time. Please enjoy our #AmMusic17 offerings from the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, Music Perceptionand 19th-Century Music.

Film Scholars gathering in Chicago for the annual meeting of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies will also find some articles of interest in the offerings below and should see our separate post with offerings from Film Quarterly and Feminist Media Histories.


The Journal of the American Musicological Society is proud to have been the recipient of six Irving Lowens Article Awards from the Society for American Music since 1997. Read these articles for free through the end of March:

Sam Cooke as Pop Album Artist—A Reinvention in Three Songs
Mark Burford
Vol. 65 No. 1, Spring 2012

The Testimonial Aesthetics of Different Trains
Amy Lynn Wlodarski
Vol. 63 No. 1, Spring 2010

Louis Armstrong, Eccentric Dance, and the Evolution of Jazz on the Eve of Swing
Brian Harker
Vol. 61 No. 1, Spring 2008

Henry Cowell and John Cage: Intersections and Influences, 1933–1941
Leta E. Miller
Vol. 59 No. 1, Spring 2006

The Early Life and Career of the “Black Patti”: The Odyssey of an African American Singer in the Late Nineteenth Century
John Graziano
Vol. 53 No. 3, Autumn, 2000

For Those We Love: Hindemith, Whitman, and “An American Requiem”
Kim H. Kowalke
Vol. 50 No.1, Spring 1997


The Journal of Musicology is pleased to make the following articles, which look at various aspects of American music (including an article on Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn) free through the end of March:

Consensus and Crisis in American Classical Music Historiography from 1890 to 1950
David C. Paul
Vol. 33 No. 2, Spring 2016

On the Scenic Route to Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (1942)
Todd Decker
Vol. 28 No. 4, Fall 2011

University Geographies and Folk Music Landscapes: Students and Local Folksingers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1961–1964
David K. Blake
Vol. 33 No. 1, Winter 2016

Grasp the Weapon of Culture! Radical Avant-Gardes and the Los Angeles Free Press
Andre Mount
Vol. 32 No. 1, Winter 2015


Music Perception offers the following articles free through month’s end:

Viewers’ Interpretations of Film Characters’ Emotions: Effects of Presenting Film Music Before or After a Character is Shown
Siu-Lan Tan, Matthew P. Spackman, Matthew A. Bezdek
Vol. 25 No. 2, December 2007

Swing Rhythm in Classic Drum Breaks From Hip-Hop’s Breakbeat Canon 
by Andrew V. Frane
Vol 34 No. 3, February 2017

Rhythm in the Speech and Music of Jazz and Riddim Musicians
Angela C. Carpenter, Andrea G. Levitt
Vol. 34 No. 1, September 2016

The Asymmetrical Influence of Timing Asynchrony of Bass Guitar and Drum Sounds on Groove
Soyogu Matsushita, Shingo Nomura
Vol. 34 No. 2, December 2016


19th-Century Music celebrates #AmMusic17 and #SCMS17 by offering a selection of articles on American film music. As with the articles above, you can read the following for free through the end of the month:

Black Voices, White Women’s Tears, and the Civil War in Classical Hollywood Movies
Robynn J. Stilwell
Vol. 40 No. 1, Summer 2016

Screwball Fantasia: Classical Music in Unfaithfully Yours
Martin Marks
Vol. 34 No. 3, Spring 2011

Listening to the Self: The Shawshank Redemption and the Technology of Music
Daniel K. L. Chua
Vol. 34 No. 3, Spring 2011


Cinema & Soundtracks: FMH and FQ Celebrate #SCMS17

With the annual meeting of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies beginning this week in Chicago, UC Press journals Feminist Media Histories and Film Quarterly are pleased to offer a collection of limited-time free articles on cinema, soundtracks, and film music. Enjoy free access to these articles today through the end of the meeting on March 26, and be sure to meet the editors if you are attending #SCMS17!


Feminist Media Histories

Editor: Shelley Stamp, University of California, Santa Cruz

SCMS Attendees: Connect with FMH at SCMS 2017!

  • Meet the Editor, Shelley Stamp, to discuss publishing your work in FMH, at the UC Press booth on Friday, 3/24 from 11:00am-12:00pm.
  • Don’t miss the announcement of the winner of the 2016 SCMS Women’s Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize (co-sponsored by FMH) at the SCMS Women’s Caucus Meeting!

 

In Defense of Voicelessness: The Matter of the Voice and the Films of Leslie Thornto
Pooja Rangan
Summer 2015, Vol. 1 No. 3

Tinkering with Cultural Memory: Gender and the Politics of Synthesizer Historiography
Tara Rodgers
Fall 2015, Vol. 1 No. 4

Backpacking Sounds: Sneha Khanwalkar and the “New” Soundtrack of Bombay Cinema
Shikha Jhingan
Fall 2015, Vol. 1 No. 4

Nené Cascallar’s Thirsty Heart: Gender, Voice, and Desire in a 1950s Argentine Radio Serial
Christine Ehrick
Fall 2015, Vol. 1 No. 4


Film Quarterly

Editor: B. Ruby Rich
Associate Editor: Regina Longo

SCMS attendees: connect with FQ at SCMS 2017!
Associate Editor Regina Longo will be available for meetings at the UC Press booth on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

Just in time for #SCMS17, Film Quarterly is delighted to unveil a newly redesigned website at filmquarterly.org. The refreshed site is fully device responsive and features a stronger visual component with full integration of social media, audio, and video. Full journal content continues to be housed at fq.ucpress.edu, but subscribers and non-subscribers alike are invited to read a curated selection of articles and web-only features on the new filmquarterly.org site.

Given that the annual conferences for both SCMS and the Society for American Music are being held this week, Film Quarterly’s editors would like to call your attention to a selection of articles (all available for free on filmquarterly.org) that should interest attendees of both #SCMS17 and #AmMusic17.

One Step Ahead: A Conversation with Barry Jenkins,
Michael Boyce Gillespie’s interview with the director of the Academy Award-winning Moonlight appears in the newly published Spring issue of Film Quarterly (read online or stop by the UC Press booth at SCMS to peruse a print copy).

Jewish, Queer-ish, Trans, and Completely Revolutionary: Jill Soloway’s Transparent and the New Television
Amy Villarejo
Summer 2016, Vol. 69 No. 4

The Master’s Voice
Claudia Gorbman
Winter 2014, Vol. 68 No. 2

Giving Credit to Paratexts in Top of the Lake and Orange Is the New Black
Kathleen McHugh
Spring 2015, Vol. 68 No. 3

Walking, Talking, Singing, Dancing, Exploding . . . and Silence: Chantal Akerman’s Sountracks
Barbara McBane
Fall 2016, Vol. 70 No. 1


A New York Reading List for the 2017 College Art Association Conference

UC Press is exhibiting at the College Art Association Conference February 15–18 in New York, and we can’t wait to see you there! Be sure to stop by booth #605 for discount details on all UC Press art books and follow @educatedarts, @collegeart, and the hashtag #CAA2017 for meeting news—including an upcoming series of author posts.

As we get ready for the conference, we’ve rounded up some suggested advance reading for art and music aficionados, whether you’re going to the conference or just heading to the Big Apple in spirit. To save 30% now, use discount code 16W6596 for the following titles (enter code at checkout).

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

“The maps themselves are things of beauty.”—New York Times 

Twenty-six gorgeously rendered maps and informative essays chart New York city’s hidden histories in the final volume of Rebecca Solnit’s trilogy of atlases. Bringing together the insights of dozens of experts—from linguists to music historians, ethnographers, urbanists, and environmental journalists—amplified by cartographers, artists, and photographers, the book explores all five boroughs of New York City and parts of nearby New Jersey, celebrating the region’s incubation of the avant-garde and its literary history, while also critiquing its racial and economic inequality, environmental impact, and erasure of its past. Check out our previous blog posts on the atlas and follow @nonstopatlas on Twitter for more peeks inside the book.

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s by Michael C. Heller

“A vital chapter in downtown history . . . a study long overdue.”—Village Voice

The New York loft jazz scene of the 1970s was a pivotal period for uncompromising, artist-produced work. Faced with a flagging jazz economy, a group of young avant-garde improvisers chose to eschew the commercial sphere and develop alternative venues in the abandoned factories and warehouses of Lower Manhattan. Loft Jazz provides the first book-length study of this period, tracing its history amid a series of overlapping discourses surrounding collectivism, urban renewal, experimentalist aesthetics, underground archives, and the radical politics of self-determination. Learn more about the movement and the book in this Village Voice article.

Drawing the Line: The Early Work of Agnes Martin by Christina Bryan Rosenberger

If your interest was piqued by the recent Agnes Martin exhibition at the Guggenheim, then this revelatory study of the artist’s early works is just what you need. Beginning with Martin’s initiation into artistic language at the University of New Mexico and concluding with the reception of her grid paintings in New York in the early 1960s, author Christina Bryan Rosenberger offers vivid descriptions of the networks of art, artists, and information that moved between New Mexico and the creative centers of New York and California in the postwar period.

Consuming Stories: Kara Walker and the Imagining of American Race by Rebecca Peabody

New York-based artist Kara Walker is well known for her site-specific pieces around the city—”A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” at the former Domino Sugar compound and her mural, “Event Horizon,” at the New School, among others. In this in-depth study, Rebecca Peabody delves deep into Walker’s brilliant and provocative art and her engagement with literary genres such as the romance novel, the neo-slave narrative, and the fairy tale to how Walker uses her tools and strategies to unsettle cultural histories  and examine assumptions about race, gender, power, and desire.


Martha Feldman Wins the Otto Kinkeldey Award at AMS in Vancouver

We are delighted to announce that Martha Feldman was awarded the Otto Kinkeldey Award for her book, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds, last week at the American Musicological Society’s annual conference.

9780520292444

The Otto Kinkeldey Award each year honors a musicological book of exceptional merit published during the previous year by a scholar who is past the early stages of his or her career. “Early stages” of the career is normally considered to mean no more than ten years beyond completion of the Ph. D. degree.

Recently released in paperback, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds has received considerable praise from reviewers, and we’re proud that Martha’s work has earned this significant recognition.

“Rich in scholarship and filled with subtle analysis.”
—Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books
“This is a remarkable book. . . . An impressive achievement.”
—Nicholas Clapton, Early Music
“Meticulously researched, beautifully written and richly illustrated . . . In this book, as erudite as it is gripping, there is little to criticize.”
Cultural History
For related content, see our series of posts relating to  or other awards-related news.

Must-Read Journals at the 2016 American Musicological Society Conference

This post is part of a blog series celebrating the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


Whether or not you are attending the  conference in Vancouver, you can access a special selection of free content from our music journals. For a limited time, Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Journal of MusicologyMusic Perception, and 19thCentury Music are making select content available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

Journal of the American Musicological Society

Editor-in-Chief: W. Anthony Sheppard; Incoming Editor: Joy H. Calico

JAMS coverThe Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society is pleased to present the Journal’s first virtual issue. The aim of this inaugural issue is to offer a diverse swath of current scholarship to a broader public. To that end the virtual issue showcases three recent colloquies—collections of brief essays by multiple authors—whose themes range across singing and song literature, performance studies and vocality, aesthetics, disability studies, and philosophy.

 

 

 

The Journal of Musicology

Editors: Peter Schmelz and Jesse Rodin

JM coverThe most recent issue of The Journal of Musicology focuses on Russian music, with articles by Leah Goldman, Gleb Tsipursky, Anne Searcy, and Richard Taruskin. Each scholar rejects the simple top-down totalitarian model of state control that once dominated western conceptions of Soviet musical creativity. Yet they also go further, examining precisely how creative choices were made within the Soviet state. They offer fresh insight into issues of individual creativity and the construction of musical meaning, as well as explore the complex layers of bureaucracy that influenced artistic production.

 

 

Music Perception

Editor: Lola L. Cuddy

MP coverIn recent years, and especially within the last decade, activity and interest in musical corpus research—that is, research involving statistical analysis of large bodies of naturally occurring musical data— has increased dramatically. In view of Music Perception’s longstanding dedication to scientific, empirical approaches to music research, the journal has devoted two special issues to the topic. The articles represent the diversity of research methodology in the field. Repertoire studied ranges from common-practice classical to jazz, and there are studies of compositional style, investigations into theoretical assertions and historical practice, a meta-study on stimulus characteristics used in perceptual studies, and a study on pattern recognition and production in improvisation. You can read the special issues here and here.

 

19th-Century Music

Editor: Lawrence Kramer

NCM coverLast year marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War and the publication at roughly the same time of the original version of Walt Whitman’s collection of Civil War poems, DrumTaps. To commemorate these events, 19th-Century Music has published a special issue on Music, the Civil War, and American Memory. The issue looks at how music proved to be one of the chief vehicles for constructing and transmitting Civil War memory and at the important, though belated role, that Whitman’s war poetry played in the process.

 

 


Vancouver and the Global New Music Scene

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Tim Rutherford-Johnson, author of Music after the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture since 1989

Vancouver, unlike Paris, New York or Cologne, is unlikely to be high on anyone’s list of cities to have had an impact on the direction of contemporary art music. Yet when I was writing Music after the Fall, I was struck by how often my attention was drawn to the Canadian West Coast – and not only because of the frequently beautiful music that gets made around here. Thanks to the teaching of Christopher Butterfield and the Czech émigré Rudolf Komorous at the University of Victoria, just the other side of the Salish Sea, two generations of composers have emerged with distinctive voices. Among them are Martin Arnold, Cassandra Miller, and Linda Catlin Smith, whose 2007 piano solo Thought and Desire exemplifies an understated, highly personal style that is fascinatingly detached from the pressures of the US or European scenes.

One of the very first composers featured in the book, Hildegard Westerkamp, has been based in Vancouver since 1968. My opening chapter even includes a photograph of Kitsilano Beach.

21422201044_c636c44258_z
Kits Beach, photo by Phil Smith

Westerkamp, and the beach, appear thanks to her Kits Beach Soundwalk, an electroacoustic piece that transforms recordings of waves and barnacles into a magic realist fantasy through 300 years of music history. Unlike the composers mentioned above, Westerkamp was taught by R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University. An environmentalist as well as a musician, the 83-year-old Schafer can probably claim to be Canada’s most celebrated living composer. His reputation stands on his work as the father of “acoustic ecology,” the scientific and creative exploration of our sounding environment.

Together with a like-minded group of composers and students (Westerkamp joined them a little later), he set up in 1969 the World Soundscape Project to raise public awareness of environmental noise and sound, document the aural environment, and establish a practice and methodology for good soundscape design. The WSP produced a number of influential publications, among them field recordings made around Vancouver and Europe, and Schafer’s manifesto text The Tuning of the World, in which he sets out the field of soundscape studies alongside an ecological program for protecting the acoustic environment against man-made noise.

Field recording has gone on to become a significant artistic and scientific discipline, and the sounds of the environment have become commonplace within experimental music. Composers around the world today are capturing more and more exotic sounds – from beneath the surface of the Hudson River to the insides of bottles, pipes and manholes – and incorporating them into their music in a variety of ways. The appeal is not only environmental, but also about redefining the nature of musical subjectivity – ultimately, what it means to listen and to be part of a sounding world. Vancouver may be out of the way to some, but its reverberations endure.


9780520283152Tim Rutherford-Johnson is a London-based music journalist and critic. He was the contemporary music editor at Grove Music Online and edited the most recent edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music. He has taught at Goldsmiths College and Brunel University, and since 2003 he has written about new music for his blog, The Rambler.


Looking Back at Loft Jazz

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Michael Heller, author of Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s

Like so many others, I graduated college without a plan. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to work in music, and I somehow stumbled into a job with New York’s Vision Festival – one of the premier showcases of the jazz avant-garde. It was a small operation, with just three of us huddled in a tiny office in the East Village apartment of Patricia and William Parker. Patricia—a dancer and choreographer—was the organization’s executive director. In ten years, she had built the festival up from a tiny event run on $5,000 and elbow grease into a major event attracting international audiences and securing funding from top arts organizations. The work also put me in close contact with a close-knit community of avant-garde improvisers, based primarily around lower Manhattan. When I would ask about their influences, one topic kept cropping up over and over again: the New York loft scene of the 1970s.

9780520285415

What were the jazz lofts? In a nutshell, the lofts were a collection of venues organized by musicians inside of mostly vacant industrial buildings in lower Manhattan. Musicians often lived in the spaces as well, blurring the line between public and private spheres. The jazz history books that I had read so dutifully as an undergrad had scarcely a mention of them, although they cropped up occasionally in artist bios (“So and so began their career performing in lofts before moving on to…”). Yet for a generation of New York artists, the vibrancy of the loft era remained a powerful source of inspiration. It was influential not only due to the music that was created, but also for the empowering value it placed upon artist-organized production strategies—strategies that continue to animate projects like Vision up to the present day. It was those conversations in Patricia’s apartment that fueled my initial fascination, ultimately resulting in this book.

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s makes no attempt to offer a comprehensive history of the scene. Instead, it works to unravel various threads of meaning that surrounded loft practices. This includes extended explorations of terms like “freedom” and “community,” ideals that crop up so frequently in jazz discourse but that can mean very different things in different contexts. It also considers the ramifications of private archiving among musicians, particularly in relation to a wave of affordable, consumer-grade recording equipment that came on the market in the 1960s. For a scene that produced fewer commercial records than earlier periods in jazz, these private archives become the linchpin for reconstructing the histories of local musical networks, even in the jazz mecca of New York City.

Over the course of my research, I would also learn that not everything about the lofts could be spun into a tidy romance. The spaces were as controversial as they were celebrated, beloved by some and abhorred by others. Perhaps nothing attracted more ire than the very phrase “loft jazz,” which opponents claimed was never a coherent style. Worse yet, some argued that the phrase glorified the meager settings in which innovative African American artists were forced to perform. These arguments are part of the story as well, and play a major role in the complex and conflicted legacies surrounding the period. But to those who remembered them fondly, the power of the lofts lie in the excitement surrounding a scene that teemed with artistic opportunity. Where music could be experienced every night on every block, and opening a venue could be as simple as opening your living room.


Heller.Headshot.2016Michael C. Heller is an ethnomusicologist, music historian, and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh.


Warsaw Autumn: Making New Music in Cold War Poland

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Lisa Jakelski, author of Making New Music in Cold War Poland: The Warsaw Autumn Festival, 1956-1968

Jakelski cover Making New Music in Cold War PolandWhat can institutions tell us about contemporary art music? The Warsaw Autumn festival provides some intriguing answers to this question. Launched in 1956 (and still running today), the Warsaw Autumn was at the heart of a vibrant musical culture in Poland whose diversity and modernity were unique in Cold War Eastern Europe. Electronic music from West Germany, symphonies from the Soviet Union, sonic experiments from Poland, and avant-garde dance from the United States—these were just some of the things a festivalgoer could see and hear in the 1950s and ‘60s.

The Warsaw Autumn fascinates me because of its unique location during the Cold War. At the time, the festival was on the cultural fault line between East and West, and, as a result, it was a place where there were heated debates about what new music could (and should) be. I’ve been just as intrigued by the stories of the people who’ve been involved with the festival. In writing this book I’ve encountered savvy composers, traveling performers, wheeling-and-dealing cultural officials, partisan critics, curious tourists, and rioting audiences. Telling their stories has allowed me to present new music as a social phenomenon—the creation of many different actors working through institutions. Following the journeys of people, objects, and ideas has also led me to a more nuanced understanding of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Instead of being muffled by an Iron Curtain, musicians in Poland, through the Warsaw Autumn festival, were able to participate meaningfully in networks that stretched across the world.


Lisa Jakelski is Associate Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.