With just the first few chords of the right song, music can transport us back in time to a certain moment of our lives. Songs from the past can also offer a powerful glimpse into history, allowing us to understand popular topics and concerns of the time in a way that textbooks often cannot. In “America’s Music From 1920 to 1935,” Nancy Bailey, Ph.D., will help us discover one of America’s most prolific periods of music. As Dr. Bailey explains, “this is music that continues to be performed: the great American songbook, the golden age of Broadway, the beginnings of recorded jazz, blues and country music.”
From 1920 to 1935, music became more readily available, which was a game changer. “Thanks to the phonograph, radio and sheet music, you no longer had to live in a big city in order to hear it. It could be brought into your own home.”
As for covering 15 years of hits in the seven meetings of one course, Dr. Bailey promises “you’ll hear a multitude of different sounds and styles of music along with all different types of performances. Musical revues were a popular trend during the early 1920s, and in many ways this class is going to end up following the same format.” This course will conclude with a special live performance of work by George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and more by mezzo soprano Sonja Bruzauskas and pianist Tali Morgulis, with commentary by Dr. Bailey.
Along with “America’s Music From 1920 to 1935,” our spring course lineup provides a few other opportunities to delve into the musical world. We are also offering “Post-Bop: Jazz’s Golden Age,” taught by David Ferris, Ph.D., associate professor of musicology at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. This course will explore the music of some of the most significant jazz musicians of the time, including Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and more, through lectures, recordings and video clips, including concert footage and documentaries. Another highlight for theater lovers is “Dancing Across the Decades with Musical Theater,” with Debra Dickinson, artist-teacher of opera studies at the Shepherd School of Music. Ms. Dickinson will walk participants through the evolution of dance in musical theater, highlighting the work and influence of George Balanchine, Bob Fosse, Fred and Adele Astaire and others.
Join us for one of these upcoming courses and transport yourself to another era while learning about classic genres of music and dance.
Image Credit: Detail of an image of Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan and Max Roach at Three Deuces in New York, 1947.