October 25, 1919
Page 13

Representative La Guardia states his Views regarding the Musical Situation in New York

NOTHING could show the growing interest in music, and consequently the increasing power of the musician and music teacher, more than the tendency of politicians to appeal for support to music lovers and members of the musical profession. Within a very recent time we know that former Mayor Preston and the present Mayor Broening of Baltimore, the present Mayor of Denver, Mayor Hylan of New York, and Mayors of other cities, have interested themselves in promoting municipal aid for concerts for the people. Then, bills have been introduced into Congress by prominent Senators and Representatives looking to the establishment of a Ministry of Fine Arts and a National Conservatory of Music.
In connection with the general movement, we have just received the following letter from Representative Fiorello H. La Guardia, who is a candidate for the important office of President of the Board of Aldermen in New York:—
House of Representatives, U. S.
Washington, D. C., Oct. 15, 1919.
Mr. John C. Freund, Editor, MUSICAL AMERICA.
My Dear Mr. Freund: —
It is indeed comforting to follow the efforts that your valuable paper is making toward the uplift of music in America. I am sure you will agree with me that New York City can be made the musical center of the world. While others are planning and conferring and perhaps dreaming, I hope that there will be a response to your call and that the music-loving citizens of this City will come together and start the work of purification and elevating the music of this City. I am sure you will have noticed that a symphony concert, no matter at what time poorly given is sure to fail in this City. Opera, if well given, is always attended to the capacity of the theater. A poor opera or an opera poorly given is sure to fail in this City. These are proof that the people of New York are music loving.
I would like to see our park music brought to the highest level. I recall the symphony concerts given in Central Park. That indeed was a novel departure and a great success—why limit our public music to the summer—why not in the winter give the people of the City concerts of good music in the various large halls that we have. A City that will appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars, can surely afford to give its people concerts the whole year round. This would not only create the taste for good music, but would hold here permanently a large number of excellent musicians.
There is no greater mistake than that “Jazz” music represents or typifies American characteristics. Its discordant, strident, ear-racking noises are typical only of barbarous tendencies, and indeed a poor imitation of the music of some of the most primitive tribes. The American syncopation, on the other hand, if properly used with taste and care, typifies our characteristics. It must be used very sparingly, as shown in Albert Spalding’s “Alabama.” One of the first things we must do is to substitute real music for what is now used and known as the “Jazz.” The people of New York do not want it, it is being forced upon them.
The music taught in our Public Schools should, I believe, be concentrated rather than scattered all over the City, and a more complete course given. There is no reason, either, why our Department of Education could not establish one advanced course of music for the Greater City of New York. These are some of the plans which I have in mind, which I am sure your paper will concur in and will lend your support in bringing about the realization of making this City the real musical center of the world.


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