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Transatlantic : a genealogy of modern American musical theatre from Jonny spielt auf to West Side story

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Transatlantic : a genealogy of modern American musical theatre from Jonny spielt auf to West Side story

Friedman, Matthew (2004) Transatlantic : a genealogy of modern American musical theatre from Jonny spielt auf to West Side story. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The motion picture adaptation of West Side Story in 1961 was a singular moment for American musical theatre. Its release normalized a unique trajectory of modernism that had first emerged in Germany after the First World War. At that time, German composers had initiated a radical modernist renovation of the opera. The result was a new definition of opera that subverted traditional categories and sought to express the condition of modernity. The generation of young American composers who had studied in Europe during the 1920s was deeply influenced by the German project, and they adapted its aims and aesthetic program to construct an American modern operatic tradition. This aesthetic project emerged in the United States in 1937, when Marc Blitzstein's musical play The Cradle Will Rock was first performed on Broadway. This show was a conscious effort to articulate the program of the new German opera in an American context. Blitzstein had a strong personal and creative influence on Leonard Bernstein, who consciously emulated his mentor and whose compositions for the musical stage in the 1940s and 1950s employed the aesthetic vocabulary of the German and American operatic projects. West Side Story clearly articulated that aesthetic. The genealogy of this process is revealed in the personal papers, articles and lectures of the German and American composers.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Friedman, Matthew
Pagination:123 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History
Date:2004
ID Code:7858
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:08
Last Modified:19 Aug 2011 04:07
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