restricted access Prelude
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Prelude T he history of a country,” wrote the local bookseller Meredith Janvier in an early twentieth-century account of old Baltimore, “is largely written in its songs, since they record and reflect not only the spirit of the times but tell what its people did, how they lived and what they thought about.”1 We began this project convinced, with Janvier, that music means a great deal to musicians and their audiences and that, indeed, music lays bare the soul of a community. It entertains men and women but also comfortsthemintheirsorrow,expresseshopesbutalsofears,celebrateslovebutalsolifts up the disappointed. Music helps people worship their God and express the timeless; it stiffens soldiers to march in formation and gives them strength on the eve of battle. No history of a people can be complete without attention to its music. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, music in Maryland encompassed the established symphony in Baltimore, which made its home in the impressive Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and also played regular concerts at Strathmore Hall, between Bethesda and Rockville; the renowned Peabody Institute, then a part of the Johns Hopkins University ; the active and distinguished Choral Arts Society in Baltimore; jazz and blues at places like An die Musik in Baltimore and in cabarets outside Washington as well as in old Annapolis; ambitious and ever-morphing “garage bands”; barbershop singing groups of national and international prominence, made up of both men and women; bluegrass and county music at hangouts in the rural counties but also in the suburbs of Baltimore and Washington; and, especially in Baltimore, persistent ethnic musical groups like klezmer bands. Technology and commercialization, it must be noted, have tended to homogenize American sounds, styles, and venues. CDs replaced LPs and then faced the threat of downloads off the Internet; likewise, iPods and mixed media available via online television subsumed MTV and conventional radio broadcasts. Live concerts in Maryland—whether featuring Yo-Yo Ma or Sting or Ice T—sounded just like those in Connecticut or Nevada. A praise-band service in a Protestant church in Annapolis featured the same rock-influenced instruments and musical selections as one in 2  Musical Maryland Michigan or Texas. After about 1965, one can argue, a new generation, born soon after World War II, came of age and expressed its own musical taste. Technology changed yet again, making music literally portable; and music marketing, funding, and business models adapted accordingly, so that one musical chapter closed and another one opened. Only with care and circumspection can one speak of a peculiarly Maryland music after that. This book explores the music Marylanders made through the mid-twentieth century, offering the first survey of the development and social function of music in the state. It makes the case that music in Maryland, that is, of the Europeans and others who established and settled Maryland (this book is not a study of the music of Native Americans who lived here first, however fascinating), began with music imported and adapted from the Old World but soon embraced original music that reflected Marylanders’ passions and interests. Eventually, by the first half of the twentieth century, black and white artists born and mostly raised in Maryland had made significant contributions to American music, both formal and popular. When we look at Maryland’s contributions to America’s musical history, we find more than a few choice stories to tell. In Upper Marlboro in 1752 some enterprising thespians and musicians staged the earliest American opera with orchestral accompaniment. After the Revolution, Baltimore provided a home to the first resident professional theater company in the United States. Exactly thirty-three years later, and only a few miles away, Francis Scott Key crafted the lyrics that would become our national anthem. As the country ’s fastest growing city in the nineteenth century, Baltimore stood in the vanguard in both sheet-music publishing and piano manufacturing. Sidney Lanier, Eubie Blake, John Hill Hewitt, Colin McPhee, Mabel Garrison, John Charles Thomas, Chick Webb, and Cab Calloway, among other influential composers and performers , called Maryland home. Billie Holiday, whose career owed heavily to radio and who enjoyed a base of admirers all across the country, had Baltimore connections and cultivated them. We divide the long history of music in Maryland into episodes that reflect the region’s emerging cultural and musical traditions over a span of more than three centuries. Extensive unpublished resources make possible a reasoned selection of some of the finest music created and performed in...


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