When Is An American Symphony Not American Enough?

Sudip Bose at The American Scholar:

It’s amazing that this landmark symphony could have been so easily forgotten. As with the other seminal New Englanders—George Whitefield Chadwick, Horatio Parker, and Edward MacDowell, among them—modernism killed off Paine’s music. And with the ascendancy of American vernacular forms, reflected in the music of Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, and others, any music arising from the German Romantic tradition could be ridiculed and ignored. Paine may have been the acknowledged dean of a New England school, but he could not be comfortably located with any American school. Even Paine’s student Richard Aldrich, writing in the early 20th century, argued that Paine’s music, despite its “fertility,” “genuine warmth,” “spontaneity of invention,” and “fine harmonic feeling,” did not “disclose ‘American’ characteristics.” But what in Paine’s time and cultural milieu would have constituted an American characteristic?

more here.