W. Anthony Sheppard: Library of Congress-American Musicological Society Lecture

Posted June 7: Professor W. Anthony Sheppard will present a lecture at noon, October 25, on “American Musical Modernism and Japan,” in Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.  Sheppard writes: “The influence of Japanese culture on the development of modern American architecture, painting, theater, and poetry has long been documented in numerous publications and exhibitions. Less well known is the impact of Japanese traditional music in shaping American musical modernism. As early as 1882, the zoologist and Japanophile Edward Sylvester Morse pointed to Japanese music as offering ideas that could take the ‘power of music in a new direction.’ Morse’s statement proved prophetic, for numerous American composers have turned to Japan for inspiration as they sought to make music new over the past hundred years. The history of this cross-cultural interaction is documented in unpublished and published scores, manuscripts, and correspondence held, often uniquely, in the Music Division of the Library of Congress. These range from a 1917 set of innovative songs by Fay Foster and the 1910 song cycle Sayonara by Charles Wakefield Cadman, to Harry Partch’s 1955 dance drama The Bewitched and the numerous Japanese-influenced works of Alan Hovhaness. In this lecture, I will focus on four American composers—Henry Eichheim (1870-1942), Claude Lapham (1890-1957), Henry Cowell (1897-1965), and Roger Reynolds (b. 1934)—who each traveled to Japan and approached the creation of modern music in ways profoundly shaped by this experience.”