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Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy

Danielle Fosler-Lussier (Author)


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During the Cold War, thousands of musicians from the United States traveled the world, sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Presentations program. Performances of music in many styles—classical, rock ’n’ roll, folk, blues, and jazz—competed with those by traveling Soviet and mainland Chinese artists, enhancing the prestige of American culture. These concerts offered audiences around the world evidence of America’s improving race relations, excellent musicianship, and generosity toward other peoples. Through personal contacts and the media, musical diplomacy also created subtle musical, social, and political relationships on a global scale. Although born of state-sponsored tours often conceived as propaganda ventures, these relationships were in themselves great diplomatic achievements and constituted the essence of America’s soft power. Using archival documents and newly collected oral histories, Danielle Fosler-Lussier shows that musical diplomacy had vastly different meanings for its various participants, including government officials, musicians, concert promoters, and audiences. Through the stories of musicians from Louis Armstrong and Marian Anderson to orchestras and college choirs, Fosler-Lussier deftly explores the value and consequences of “musical diplomacy.”
List of Illustrations

Introduction: Instruments of Diplomacy
1. Classical Music and the Mediation of Prestige
2. Classical Music as Development Aid
3. Jazz in the Cultural Presentations Program
4. African American Ambassadors Abroad and at Home
5. Presenting America’s Religious Heritage Abroad
6. The Double-Edged Diplomacy of Popular Music
7. Music, Media, and Cultural Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union
Conclusion: Music, Mediated Diplomacy, and Globalization in the Cold War Era

Selected Bibliography
Danielle Fosler-Lussier is Associate Professor of Music, Ohio State University, and author of Music Divided: Bartók's Legacy in Cold War Culture.
"The significant contribution of this book is in the complex way that Fosler-Lussier describes the effect of cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy—in terms of human relationships and cross-cultural exchange."—Caitlin Schindler H-Diplo
"The author of this fascinating book, Danielle Fosler-Lussier, is one of the first musicologists to probe music’s role in cultural diplomacy, still a relatively new area of inquiry.... Readers will be regaled with a well-organized wealth of material that always makes a point."—Transposition. Musique et sciences sociales
"Opens a number of intriguing avenues for future work... Students and scholars of music, of the Cold War, and of culture and politics will find that this book challenges them to think in new ways about their own research, and to consider the multi-dimensionality of the power that animates musical practice and consumption in the contemporary world."—Notes
“Balanced, insightful, and meticulously researched, Danielle Fosler-Lussier’s book is a magnificent account of the ways in which the U.S. government used music to advance its foreign policy goals during the Cold War. For the first time we are taken behind the triumphalist headlines and uncritical mythology of stars and swooning publics surrendering to the irresistible forces of U.S. ‘soft power’ to see the inner workings of the cultural Cold War. The underlying message is that foreign policy—like so much in life—rests on building and maintaining relationships and that for the superpower as for the musician, success begins with listening.”
— Professor Nicholas J. Cull, author of The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945–1989

“Due to their profound differences, the interstices between governments and the arts are always worthy of attention. Danielle Fosler-Lussier has written a thorough, well-documented, and captivating account of how the U.S. State Department attempted, with some success, to bolster America’s image by sending musicians abroad during the Cold War era. Although I had been one of these musicians, I was surprised at their number and variety, ranging from Dizzy Gillespie to Aaron Copland, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Tom Two Arrows, and from Merce Cunningham to Gene Kelly. It is fascinating to discover the inner workings of how artists were selected, how countries were chosen, and how the tours were presented, as well as to read about the subsequent debates regarding the value of the tours. This book offers us not only the opportunity to understand an intriguing aspect of our cultural and political history, but also a chance to reflect upon who we were and who we are.”—Stephen Addiss, author of The Art of Haiku

2015 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

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