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Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy

Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy

Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Music in America's Cold War Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    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."

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95978-1
    Subjects: Music, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction: Instruments of Diplomacy
    (pp. 1-22)

    Sitting in the American embassy in Phnom Penh, Edmund Kellogg was overwhelmed and frustrated. As the interim chargé d’affaires for the embassy, he was responsible for reporting on the success of U.S. government–sponsored concerts in Cambodia. Unfortunately, there was little success to report. The embassy had had to cancel two of the three musical groups that were supposed to appear in Cambodia in the 1958–59 season, and recent American musical performances there had been unsuccessful. Half the audience for the harmonica player John Sebastian left the hall within the first few minutes of the concert, although the rest...

  7. 1 Classical Music and the Mediation of Prestige
    (pp. 23-46)

    From the early days of the U.S. government’s Cultural Presentations program, many of the musicians who were sent abroad played classical music— an American offshoot of a European tradition. The emphasis on classical music was not intended to be exclusive: State Department officials and the ACA recognized the danger of focusing on any one kind of music.¹ Still, ANTA’s Music Advisory Panel comprised members chosen for their eminence in American art music circles, including Virgil Thomson, composer and critic; Howard Hanson, composer and director of the Eastman School of Music; William Schuman, composer and director of the Juilliard School; Milton...

  8. 2 Classical Music as Development Aid
    (pp. 47-76)

    The State Department’s musical activities abroad included not only singers and instrumental performers but also conductors, composers, and teachers who traveled under the department’s American Specialists program. Specialists were typically scientists sent to advise on agricultural or industrial projects: the program was a form of development aid in which technical knowledge was conveyed to professionals in other countries. Specialists in music would typically teach classes, lead concerts, or give lectures about American music. Prominent composers such as Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, and Virgil Thomson were sent abroad to present their music at festivals or special performances. Dancer and movie star...

  9. 3 Jazz in the Cultural Presentations Program
    (pp. 77-100)

    When people today think about American musical diplomacy, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, and Dave Brubeck are the musicians who come to mind. The metaphorical associations between jazz and freedom, or even between jazz and democracy, have become the stuff of legend. The very strength of these associations can make them seem a permanent feature of the music, obscuring the conflict and care that went into forming the iconic status of jazz. Nevertheless, State Department officials’ decisions about how to use jazz abroad helped shape that status. Jazz was not used in diplomacy because it was already meaningful for...

  10. 4 African American Ambassadors Abroad and at Home
    (pp. 101-122)

    As we saw in the case of jazz, African American musicians related to the State Department in complicated ways. They welcomed the chance to appear in the limelight and represent their country. Still, in their role as ambassadors they were also put in the awkward position of answering countless inquiries about American race relations. Louis Armstrong and Marian Anderson, eminent African American artists in the fields of jazz and classical music, respectively, had both toured abroad under private arrangements before the Second World War. In the 1950s both of them became highly conspicuous musical ambassadors for the United States. Their...

  11. 5 Presenting America’s Religious Heritage Abroad
    (pp. 123-142)

    As the historian Jonathan Herzog describes it, the Cold War inspired a “deliberate and managed use of societal resources to stimulate a religious revival in the late 1940s and 1950s.”¹ Again and again American thinkers tied their country’s place in the world to its religious identity. Highly placed figures in the U.S. government frequently drew a sharp contrast between a Judeo-Christian America and the “godless Communism” of the Soviet Union. Within the United States, church attendance rose through the late 1940s and 1950s, and church membership was considered a defense against accusations of Communist affiliation. At the same time, some...

  12. 6 The Double-Edged Diplomacy of Popular Music
    (pp. 143-165)

    Whether cultural presentations should enlighten, impress, preach, or entertain remained a key question throughout the Cultural Presentations program’s existence. As we saw in chapter 1, State Department officials and Music Advisory Panels alike demonstrated concern that entertainment music would not convey the necessary impression of cultural depth, and it might even offend some listeners in the host countries. In a hotly contested meeting in 1963, the newly reconstituted Advisory Committee on the Arts “saw no place in the Program for pure entertainment.”¹ The committee, formed largely of highly placed people in the high-art world, underscored “the excellence and seriousness of...

  13. 7 Music, Media, and Cultural Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union
    (pp. 166-204)

    Musical exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union were perhaps the most visible acts of cultural diplomacy of the era, capturing the imagination of audiences, musicians, and publics around the world. These exchanges took place in an environment of suspicion and skepticism. What Americans knew of the Soviets, and vice versa, was both limited and extreme, with demonizing portrayals proliferating on both sides. The Soviet state’s crackdowns on writers, composers, and other intellectuals were widely covered in the American press. Likewise, Soviet media made it known that the United States was a debauched, immoral society.¹ Music was highly...

  14. Conclusion: Music, Mediated Diplomacy, and Globalization in the Cold War Era
    (pp. 205-226)

    Marshall McLuhan declared in 1964 that the availability of images and sounds via electronic media had transformed humanity, allowing immediate sensory perception of faraway events and giving each individual opportunities for participatory engagement in those events.¹ While McLuhan reveled in this “global embrace,” Daniel Boorstin was more cynical about its effects. Boorstin noted in 1961 that the existence of electronic media had brought into being a great number of “pseudo-events,” news events that were staged for the purpose of being reported in the media. The “pseudoevent” was characterized by the following features:

    1. It does not occur spontaneously, but has been...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 227-298)
  16. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 299-314)
  17. Index
    (pp. 315-329)