Music, McCarthy, and the Sound of Americana
Play episode · 34 min

In the 1920s, composer Aaron Copland took off for Paris. His search for a uniquely American classical music resulted in some of the most familiar and patriotic music of the 20th Century — including his famous piece, "Fanfare for the Common Man."

WNYC's Sara Fishko ("Fishko Files") follows Copland’s story through the 1930s and '40s in America, when the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism and the unprecedented collective effort during World War II united Americans against a common enemy. Copland's music was transformed during that "Popular Front" period — with a simplified, accessible approach.

Fishko sits down with the distinguished contemporary composer John Corigliano ("The Red Violin") to deconstruct the sound of the "Americana style." The departure from European traditions created a new and remarkable connection between music and the American politics of the time.

But Copland's activism and creative output — and that of many artists and intellectuals — would be threatened and dramatically altered by the swing to the right in American politics in the 1950s.

Episode Contributors:

Kai Wright

Sara Fishko

Karen Frillmann

Olivia Briley

Bill Moss

The United States of Anxiety is hosted by Kai Wright and produced by WNYC Studios.

Listen to more shows from WNYC Studios:

WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics, Radiolab, Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin and many more.

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