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Grant number: FT-61552-14

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Carol Ann Hess
University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)

Aaron Copland, Cultural Diplomacy, and Latin America

I am applying for an NEH Summer Stipend to complete two in-progress books on the U.S. composer Aaron Copland and his work as a cultural diplomat in Latin America. The first book is an annotated edition of the diary Copland kept of his Latin American experience. The second book enlists Copland's diplomatic encounters to explore broader questions that cultural diplomacy often poses in relationship of unequal political and economic power, as with the United States and Latin America. I show that both American exceptionalism and divergent views of modernism, North and South, surface in reviews of Copland's music. I also relate these and other related themes to the special nature of music, generally seen as a nonrepresentational art but one to which audiences are nonetheless quick to attach meaning. My project thus offers a fresh and nuanced look at Longfellow's oft-repeated adage "music is the universal language," tested every time musicians take up the duties of cultural diplomacy.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
Music History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2014 – 8/31/2014