1917. It was unlike any other year in American history. Or American music. As the United States entered World War I, a new musical genre that suited the world’s frantic mood burst onto the national scene. JAZZ. German musicians who had dominated classical music were forced from the stage and New Orleans natives Nick LaRocca and Freddie Keppard popularized the new sound taking its place. Patriotism was at an all-time high. African-American bandleader James Reese Europe turned the Fifteenth New York Infantry Band into the best military band in the country. Conductors Walter Damrosch and Karl Muck brought patriotic music to the symphonic stage. And, musicians like violinist Fritz Kreisler, pianist Olga Samaroff, and contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink walked a tightrope of suspicion because of their German sympathies. The lives of these eight musicians were upended, and they intersected in surprising ways. By year’s end, the country and music in America would never be the same.
Eight Cousins Books, our co-host, will have copies of this book at the talk. The book will also be available in the store at 189 Main Street in Falmouth.