In Good Music for a Free People, author Nancy Newman examines the activities and reception of the Germania Musical Society, an orchestra whose members emigrated from Berlin during the Revolutions of 1848. These two dozen "Forty-Eighters" gave nearly a thousand concerts in North America during the ensuing six-year period, possibly reaching a million listeners. Drawing on a memoir by member Henry Albrecht, Newman provides insights into the musicians' desire to bring their music to the audiences of a democratic republic at this turbulent time. Eager to avoid the egotism and self-promotion of the European patronage system, they pledged to work for their mutual interests both musically and socially. "One for all, and all for one" became their motto. Originally published in German, Albrecht's memoir is presented here in for the first time in translation.
Nancy Newman is Associate Professor in the Music Department at the University at Albany, SUNY.
A significant contribution to nineteenth-century American music studies. . . . Nuanced and sensitive. . . . Newman's research shows how difficult it is to distinguish between transatlantic and American "popular culture" on one hand and "high art" on the other hand (especially in the nineteenth century). IMMIGRATION & ETHNIC HISTORY SOCIETY [Julia J. Chybowski
A strong narrative thrust. . . . Rich documentation and analysis. . . .Resisting the arguments of Lawrence Levine's 1988 study Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America
, which maintains that the nineteenth century saw a rift between popular and elite art and music, Newman shows that, in truth, this orchestra worked to build bridges between high and low, reaching and building new audiences. MAX KADE INSTITUTE [Alan Lareau]
Strong historical and political background gives this book interest not only to the musicologist, but also to the history enthusiast. . . . Easy to read. . . . Raises important questions of popular vs. classical styles, many of which still exist today. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES [Erica Rumbley]
A rich, introspective and thought-provoking book . . . . Newman has accomplished a major feat: in a forceful narrative, she has moved a seemingly marginal cultural actor from the periphery into the spotlight of historical sociopolitical analysis. JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES [Gienow-Hecht]
Fills a significant void. . . . The author supplements Albrecht's omniscient accounts with abundant original programs, advertisements, and contemporary newspaper reviews. . . . A rich mine of statistics and contemporary criticism. . . . Almost reads as a novel, with the characters of the orchestra -- and Jenny Lind among other famous soloists -- setting out on a journey of American pioneer dimensions and the reader awaiting the circumstances of the Germanians' dissolution. . . . [Their] lasting influence on the great American symphony orchestras [make this book] of special interest to musicologists and others interested in the relationship between nineteenth-century German and U.S. history and culture. YEARBOOK OF GERMAN-AMERICAN STUDIES [David Steinau]