National service and operatic ambitions: Arthur Nevin's musical activities during World War I
Links to Files
Towson University. Department of Music
Citation of Original Publication
Ziegel, Aaron. “National service and operatic ambitions: Arthur Nevin's musical activities during World War I.” American Music 34, no. 4 (2016): 414-446. doi: 10.5406/americanmusic.34.4.0414.
This case study of how one composer charted a career during World War I offers a compelling frame through which to examine key facets of the American experience. Nevin’s story weaves together several crucial issues that characterize musical life at the time, including the cultural hierarchy of competing genres, the professional obstacles confronting composers, and the search for creative outlets that might offer lasting societal and artistic impact. In sum, his diverse activities form a portrait of a musician pursuing a career of recognizably contemporary outlines. During this period, Nevin engaged across a spectrum of style idioms, from Tin Pan Alley popular song and community music to opera. He filled a diverse array of music- related roles, including songwriter, conductor, teacher, essayist and correspondent, concert organizer, logistics manager, and army officer, all while struggling to find success in the medium at the center of his compositional career: American opera. The challenges were not one but many, demanding a multiplicity of aptitudes and an endless supply of novel solutions.