Conversation: Leon Botstein on How Circus Music Helped Shape American Pop Culture
Posted by Jeffrey Brown
October 26, 2012
Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1899; U.S. Library of Congress.
"Circus and the City: New York, 1793-2010" is an exhibition now showing at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. It is, as it sounds, a big look at the development and pageantry of the circus over time through many different angles. One of those is through music.
Leon Botstein, conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and president of Bard College, wrote about that part of the story in a catalog essay, "Circus Music in America." In it, Botstein discusses the composers behind the music of the circus, from Igor Stravinsky to Charles Ives, and the surprising influence their compositions had on modern American popular culture, from radio dramas to motion pictures to TV shows.
"In small-town America, particularly, audiences got their first taste of classical music from these circus bands," Botstein said. "The unintended consequence of the circus was it created an audience for music and it also created a way by which music told a story."
I talked to Botstein by phone earlier this week:
read more here--