UIUC Musicology at the Library of Congress

Members of musicology faculty and alumni will give an American Musicological Society Public Lecture, titled “Johnnies, Tommies, and Sammies: Music and the WWI alliance,” at the Library of Congress on May 18th, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Madison Bldg., Montpelier Room. (See abstract below.)

Participants will include Christina Bashford (Associate Professor of Musicology, UIUC), William Brooks (Professor Emeritus of Music, UIUC; Professor of Music, University of York, UK), and Gayle Sherwood Magee (Associate Professor of Musicology, UIUC).  They will be joined by two graduates of the SoM’s Doctor of Musical Arts program: Laurie Matheson (currently Director of the U of I Press) and Justin Vickers (Assistant Professor of Voice, Illinois State University), and also the pianist Geoffrey Duce, who is Assistant Professor of Piano at Illinois State University.


Johnnies, Tommies, and Sammies: Music and the WWI alliance

 Throughout World War I, musical cultures in Britain, Canada, and The United States were deeply entangled in the formation of “The Allies.” As the war evolved, popular music exchanged and performed in all three cultures —filtered increasingly through US publishers—provided remarkable insights into their changing views of each other, themselves, and the conflict. In 1914, Britain was directly involved and directly threatened; Canada, still a British colony, owed allegiance to the Crown but was three thousand miles removed; and the United States was officially neutral but in practice supported the allies and (after the Lusitania incident) was increasingly inclined towards engagement. By 1917 all three countries had become part of “The Allies”; music, as this presentation demonstrates, played a central role in binding the three countries together.

Drawing primarily on the Library of Congress’s recently digitized copyright deposits from the period, and contextualized by a study of the newspapers in Chronicling America, recordings from National Jukebox, and other materials from American Memory, six participants—musicologists Christina Bashford, William Brooks, and Gayle Magee, and performers Justin Vickers, Laurie Matheson, and Geoff Duce—offer an integrated lecture-performance that manifests in its design the process of alliance that occurred a century ago. Bashford, Brooks, and Magee are from Britain, the United States, and Canada, respectively; and they will each speak about and through their respective country’s musics. The presentation is not a series of papers but rather a single, collaboratively authored text, partitioned among the speakers in a series of scripted encounters, and illustrated with slides, films, period recordings, and live performances of sheet music.