Body And Soul: The Making Of American Modernism by Robert Crunden

By Robert Crunden

During this publication Robert Crunden places the "jazz" again within the Jazz Age. Jazz used to be America's maximum contribution to the Modernist stream, but it really is a lot neglected. once we listen the time period "Jazz Age," we conjure the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Eliot, now not Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington. so as to right this imbalance, Crunden re-introduces us to those musical luminaries who gave the period its identify as he lines the early heritage of jazz from New Orleans to Chicago to long island. whereas Crunden emphasizes tune over literature and the visible arts, he by no means fails to map the complicated cross-currents of literature that handed among jazz musicians and their "Lost iteration" friends, a veritable competition of the glittering personalities of the day-James Joyce, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Strand, John Dos Passos, Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein.

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In later life he grew ashamed of several of his musical ancestors and disowned his early works. What war did not destroy, he burned. "Moi, je suis I'ancetre [I am the ancestor]," was a phrase he used about his musicological heredity. Common enough among creative people, such a wish often scatters leaves over a tangled bank of ancestors even more complex than most conventional genealogies. Varese had a great many ancestors, some of them improbable, and all of them had consequences for his later role in American modernism.

But he had no more a novelistic gift than Rosenfeld had; he was at his best as a cultural critic. His wide reading in European psychological thinkers, and his obsession with mystical religious visions, vitiated what talent he had. He was also egotistical and humorless, filling his letters even to such close friends as Stieglitz with whining complaints about the lack of response to his work. He feared that such friends as Rosenfeld would turn on him, meaning that they would not assess his work or his wisdom at the unrealistic level he preferred.

Nevertheless, Stravinsky remained for him the most important musical modernist, a role he was soon playing for young American composers. 15 Rosenfeld made a commendable effort to discuss music elsewhere in Europe. Some of it he heard there, or studied if he could obtain the score. Usually, he had to wait for rare New York performances. He wrote in detail about Karol Szymanowski, the leading Polish innovator, and of such Italians as Alfredo Casella, Ildebrando Pizzetti, and Gian Francesco Malipiero, all names still moderately familiar to connoisseurs.

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