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1. According to historian J. Douglas Smith, “Dr. Lawrence T. Price, W. C. Maddox, and W. I. Stockton, Jr., respectively the chairman, president, and secretary of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs, all appeared in the notarized list of former Richmond Klansmen who had renounced their membership” (Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow Virginia [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002], 79–80). For more on the formation of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, see ibid., 77–80.
2. “Constitution of the Anglo-Saxon Club of America,” Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, 1923, p. 2, articles on eugenics, folder 6, box 38, Papers of John Powell, 1888–1978, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, emphasis added.
3. Quoted in Jonathan Peter Spiro, Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant (Burlington: University of Vermont Press, 2009), 256.
4. As I have written about elsewhere, black composers pioneered the idea of basing art compositions on black folk and popular music. However, I focus on how Powell’s composition and, by extension, much of white modernism itself hinged on misrepresentations of black music and subjectivity.
5. Beth Levy, Frontier Figures: American Music and the Mythology of the American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 2–6. Also see Barbara Zuck, A History of Musical Americanism (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1980), 56–86. For more on Dvořák’s impact on American concert music, see Richard Crawford, “Dvořák and the Historiography of American Music,” in Rethinking Dvořák: Views from Five Countries, ed. David Beveridge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 257–64; and Thomas L. Riis, “Dvořák and His Black Students,” in Beveridge, Rethinking Dvořák, 265–74.
6. John Powell, “Rhapsodie nègre Program Notes,” manuscripts, folder 9, box 29, Powell Papers.
7. John Powell, “Music and the Nation,” Rice Institute Pamphlet 10, no. 3 (July 1923): 148. For an extensive analysis of his largest work using this idiom, Symphony in A, see J. Lester Feder, “Unequal Temperament: The Somatic Acoustics of Racial Difference in the Symphonic Music of John Powell,” Black Music Research Journal 28, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 40–49. For more on his commitment to the construction and preservation of Anglo-Saxon folk culture, see David Whisnant, All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region, 2nd ed. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 181–252.
8. Powell, “Music and the Nation,” 148.
9. Powell would later write that “the rhythms on which jazz is based—not jazz itself—are African,” in contrast to the spirituals, which were white camp songs. R. H. Wollstein, “The Question of Spirituals,” Musical American, January 26, 1929, in Jazz in Print (1856–1929), ed. Karl Koenig (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2002), 549–50.
10. “Famous Musicians Give Lie to Va. Critic: There Is Real Negro Music, Artists Say,” Afro-American, February 4, 1933, 11; and “John Powell’s Assertion That There Is No Real American Negro Music Disproved by Eminent Musicians and Critics,” Norfolk Journal and Guide, January 28, 1933, 8. George Pullen Jackson, in his 1938 book, White Spirituals of the Southern Uplands, is more famous for this work and was a colleague of Powell’s. Jackson painstakingly traces the purported white origin of numerous black spirituals.
11. Powell, “Music and the Nation.”
12. F. C. Shang, F. C. Coppicus Presents Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra of Twenty-Five in Their First Transcontinental Concert Tour, Season 1924–1925 (New York: Townsend & McNerney, 1924), 5. There is no evidence they ever worked together or even communicated about a collaboration, based on my research at both the Paul Whiteman Collection at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the George and Böske Antheil Papers at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
13. Daniel Gregory Mason, “Our Orchestras and Our Money’s Worth,” Harper’s, June 1, 1928, 80–81.
14. Dr. Hans Kindler, “John Powell Presents Own Rhapsody Here,” Washington Post, January 29, 1939, news clippings, folder 16, box 36, Powell Papers.
15. Richard Crawford, America’s Musical Life: A History (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), 575.
16. David Kushner, “John Powell,” in Grove Music Online, January 20, 2001, http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000022212. The author later wrote about Powell’s white supremacy in the following publication: David Kushner, “John Powell: His Racial and Cultural Ideologies,” Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online 5, no. 1 (2006). While revising this article, BBC Radio 3 produced an episode on Powell entitled “A Racist Music.”
17. Feder, “Unequal Temperament.”
18. Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 3. Also see Houston A. Baker Jr., Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).
19. Unidentified letter to John Powell, May 3, 1916, correspondence concerning eugenics, folder 1, box 39, Powell Papers.
20. Jennifer Lynn Stoever, The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (New York: New York University Press, 2016), 7.
21. Given the enforcement of Jim Crow segregation laws and the exclusion of black Americans from classical music spheres, it can be assumed that performances comprised mostly white audiences. In larger cities such as Chicago and New York, where segregation laws were not always enforced, black artistic circles thrived during the New Negro Renaissance, and black Americans had greater access to classical music circles, there were occasionally interracial audiences, especially at large premieres. A 1921 review by Nora Holt in the Chicago Defender confirms this assumption. Notably, she is unimpressed, writing that Powell has turned to black music because his music and career are “void of public notice.” Nora Douglas Holt, “Music,” Chicago Defender, March 12, 1921, 10.
22. It premiered on March 23, 1918, performed by the Russian Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Modest Altschuler with the composer as soloist.
23. Carol Oja, Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 11–56.
24. For more on primitivism, see Marianna Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); Sieglinde Lemke, Primitivist Modernism: Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); and Michael Bell, “The Metaphysics of Modernism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, ed. Michael Levenson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 9–32.
25. Daniel Albright, Modernism and Music: An Anthology of Sources (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 235.
26. Holt, “Music.” Holt says these program notes were written by Richard Brockwell, but this was a pseudonym he used to pen his own descriptions and perhaps mask his own ideological leanings.
27. Rolf Charlston, “A Rhapsodic ‘Heart of Darkness’: John Powell’s ‘Rhapsodie Nègre,‘” The Conradian 26, no. 2 (Autumn 2001): 79–90.
28. China Achebe, “An Image of African,” Massachusetts Review 18 (1977): 788.
29. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, unabridged, ed. Stanley Applebaum (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1990), 9.
30. Ibid., 32.
31. For more on these social Darwinism, which pervaded some strains of ethnology, anthropology, and political writing in the guise of scientific scholarship, see Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought, reprint, with a new introduction by Eric Foner (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992); Lee D. Baker, From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896–1954 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); and Spiro, Defending the Master Race.
32. Baker, From Savage to Negro, 11–53. See also Marius Turda, Modernism and Eugenics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 15.
33. Baker, From Savage to Negro, 35.
34. Powell, “Rhapsodie nègre Program Notes.”
35. John Powell, Rhapsodie nègre, 1918, manuscript, 1922, Powell Papers.
36. Stoever, The Sonic Color Line, 4.
37. Feder, “Unequal Temperament,” 33–40.
38. Powell, “Rhapsodie nègre Program Notes.”
39. John Powell, Rhapsodie nègre (1918), Krazy Kat / Dance in Place / American Life / Rhapsodie Nègre, recorded by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Zita Carno in 1992, New World Records 80228-2. I use time stamps here instead of score excerpts because the latter is not necessary to make my point. I also want to encourage readers to listen to this piece in full.
40. Feder argues that Powell used minor third modulations, which draw on the octatonic scale, to “dehumanize African Americans” (“Unequal Temperament,” 35).
41. Angela Y. Davis, “Rape, Racism, and the Capitalist Setting,” Black Scholar 9, no. 7 (April 1978): 24–25.
42. Grace Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940 (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 199–239.
43. For more on the racial and musical nature of these camp meetings, see Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans, 3rd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 82–88; and Sandra Jean Graham, Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2018), 4–6.
44. Powell, “Rhapsodie nègre Program Notes.”
45. Alan P. Merriam and Fradley H. Garner, “Jazz—the Word” (1960), in The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, ed. Robert G. O’Meally (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 7–31.
46. Richard Dyer, White: Essays on Race and Culture (New York: Routledge, 1997), 25.
47. Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1997; repr., New York: Vintage Books, 2016), 66.
48. H.F.P., “Powell’s Creative Gifts Again Admired,” Musical America, March 30, 1918, 22.
49. Literary Digest, February 16, 1929.
50. Shang, F. C. Coppicus, 5; “Local Orchestra to Play Number by John Powell,” Daily Press (Newport News, VA), January 23, 1963, 21.
51. Ronald Radano, Lying Up a Nation: Race and Black Music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 164–277.
52. R. F. Nisbett, “Louis Gruenberg’s American Idiom,” American Music 3, no. 1 (1985): 25–41. Here I am considering Carpenter’s Krazy Kat (1921), A Little Bit of Jazz (1925, commissioned by Paul Whiteman), and Skyscrapers (1923–24) and Gruenberg’s The Daniel Jazz (1925), Jazzberries (1925), and Jazzettes (1926).
53. “A Tribute to Paul Whiteman,” Talking Machine Journal, November 1920, 66, quoted in Elijah Wald, How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 74.
54. Oja, Making Music Modern, 315.
55. Antheil segregates the black and white keys of the piano in A Jazz Symphony (1926) and writes about the keys having racial meaning in “The Negro on the Spiral or A Method of Negro Music,” in Negro: An Anthology, ed. Nancy Cunard (London: Wishart & Co., 1934), 350. This would not have been detected by the audience. Interestingly, he studied eugenics later in life.
56. Pollack, George Gershwin, 232; Louis Gruenberg, “Jazz as a Starting Point,” Musical Leader, May 28, 1925, 594–95, quoted in David Metzer, “‘A Wall of Darkness Dividing the World’: Blackness and Whiteness in Louis Gruenberg’s ’The Emperor Jones,’” Cambridge Opera Journal 7, no. 1 (March 1995): 56–57; Pollack, John Alden Carpenter, 232; Aaron Copland, “Jazz Structure and Influence,” Modern Music 4, no. 2 (1927): 9–10; Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis, Copland: 1900 through 1942 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987), 134; “’Jazz Came to Us in Chains but Now It Conquers,’ Says Paul Whiteman,” New York Times, June 12, 1927, box 51, SB 131, Scrapbooks, Paul Whiteman Collection, Williams College Archives and Special Collections, Chapin Library, Williams College, Williamstown, MA; and Antheil, “The Negro on the Spiral,” 350.
57. I use the term “white” here fully aware of the extensive scholarship arguing that this term and its racial and ethnic associations were still under construction. This is especially the case for Jewish immigrants George Gershwin and Aaron Copland, who, as scholars have argued, used jazz to assimilate into American culture more fully. For more on this, see David Roediger, Working toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White; The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs (New York: Basic Books, 2005); Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1995); and Michael Rogin, Blackface, Whitenoise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).
58. Programs, folders 2–10, box 34, Powell Papers.
59. “John Powell Dazzles in Rhapsodies: ‘Cubist’ Variation of Negro Themes Filled with Rhythm,” n.d., news clippings, folder 16, box 36, Powell Papers.
60. Olin Downes, “Music,” New York Times, n.d., news clippings, folder 16, box 36, Powell Papers.
61. Karl Hagstrom Miller, Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 1–22, 157–86.
62. Unsourced clipping, news clippings, folder 16, box 36, Powell Papers.
63. “The Wild Barbaric Rhythms of John Powell’s Negro Rhapsody,” Musical Courier, November 9, 1929, reprint from Literary Digest, February 16, 1929, news clippings, folder 18, box 36, Powell Papers.
64. Review of Modest Altschuler’s premiere in 1918, news clippings, folder 16, box 36, Powell Papers.
65. “The Wild Barbaric Rhythms,” 9.
66. Oscar Thompson, “‘Skyscrapers’ Acclaimed as Genuinely American,” Musical America, February 27, 1926, 5, in Pollack, John Alden Carpenter, 237; Lawrence Gilman quoted in ibid., 236.
67. Copland and Perlis, Copland, 120.
68. “America, Africa and Steel Furnish Inspiration for Latest Music Hit,” New York Telegram, April 10, 1927, Scrapbook 1925–29, folder 1, box 36, George and Böske Antheil Papers, Music Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
69. Charles Prager, “A Riot of Music,” New York Herald Tribune, April 10, 1927, quoted in David Savron, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009), 209.
70. Elizabeth Crist, “Copland and the Politics of Americanism,” in Copland and His World, ed. Carol J. Oja and Judith Tick (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 280.
71. L. Moody Simms, “Folk Music in America: John Powell and the ‘National Musical Idiom,‘” Journal of Popular Culture 7, no. 3 (Winter 1973): 511.
72. W. J. Henderson, “Ragtime, Jazz, and High Art,” Scribner’s, February 1925, in Koenig, Jazz in Print, 388.
73. “Negro Cause Is Pushed by Harmonist,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1926, 17.
74. “John Powell, 80, Pianist-Composer: Virtuoso Performer of the Classical Repertory Dies,” New York Times, August 16, 1963, 27.
75. Francis Donald Tovey, “Rhapsodie nègre Program Notes,” folder 5, box 34, Powell Papers.
76. Daylanne K. English, Eugenics in American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 1.
77. Gregory Michael Door, “Assuring America’s Place in the Sun: Ivey Foreman Lewis and the Teaching of Eugenics at the University of Virginia, 1915–1953,” Journal of Southern History 66, no. 2 (May 2000): 285.
78. Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 136.
79. John Powell, “Is White America to Become a Negroid Nation?,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 22, 1923, Sunday magazine, 2, cited in Smith, Managing White Supremacy, 82.
80. Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924, Virginia General Assembly, SB281. This act was upheld in a 1927 Supreme Court case, Buck v. Bell, in which the Court ruled in favor of the compulsory sterilization of “unfit” individuals. Buck v. Bell was also cited at the Nuremberg trails by lawyers to defend Nazi scientists whose actions led to the sterilization of 375,000 Jews. For more, see Adam Cohen, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck (London: Penguin Press, 2016), 11. It is also worth noting that the Immigration Act of 1924, also called the Johnson-Reed Act, passed that same year.
81. Quoted in Smith, Managing White Supremacy, 80.
82. Ibid., 262–63.
83. James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); and Davarian L. Baldwin, Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, & Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).
84. Smith, Managing White Supremacy, 41.
85. Ibid., 40–75.
86. Ibid., 77.
87. Nancy K. MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt, “Hatred and Profits: Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 127, no. 4 (2012): 1883–1925.
88. Barbara Foley, Specters of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008); and Smith, Managing White Supremacy, 40–75.
89. Kathy J. Ogren, The Jazz Revolution: Twenties America & the Meaning of Jazz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 154; and Wald, How the Beatles, 92.
90. “Primitive Savage Animalism, Preacher’s Analysis of Jazz,” New York Times, March 3, 1922, in Koenig, Jazz in Print, 169.
91. Neil Leonard, Jazz and the White Americans: The Acceptance of a New Art Form (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 99.
92. Radano, Lying Up a Nation, 236.
93. George Miller, “Song Echoes from the Old South,” Musical Courier, April 6, 1922, in Koenig, Jazz in Print, 176.
94. Koenig, Jazz in Print, 135, 176, 328, 355, 389.
95. For more on the reception of US classical music in the United States and abroad, see Zuck, A History of Musical Americanism; Mary Herron DuPree, “The Failure of American Music: The Critical View from the 1920s,” Journal of Musicology 2, no. 3 (Summer 1983): 305–15; and Oja, Making Music Modern.
96. Powell, “Music and the Nation,” 148.
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