Project Idea: Music from the 1880s to the 1930s

The concept behind this project is that most if not all music (at least in the construct of western music) can be aggregated into two broad categories.

  • Classical (at Large): Renaissance music, romantic music, liturgical orchestration, symphonies, Opera,
  • Contemporary Music: Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, RnB, etc…
    • Calling this word contemporary seems like a misnomer (but for lack of better terminology) but most of these music styles were at one point contemporary back when they were innovated

But where would genre like ragtime or blues be classified in this Classical-Contemporary paradigm?  Could they be either? or Both? or Neither? This is the central point of my project. My project is built upon looking at music within the 1880s to 1930s where this classification of mine can fall apart.



Sempre Fidelis: John P Sousa (1888)

Symphony # 9 (New World Symphony)Movement 4: Antonin Dvorak (1892)

Entertainer: Scott Joplin (1901)

I Got the Blues: Anthonio Maggio (1912)

The Charleston: James P Johnson (1923)

Summertime: George Gershwin (1935)

Annotated Bibliography

Klaus Döge. “Dvořák, Antonín.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. 

Antonin Dvorak was a composer of classical music, particularly in the late romantic era of classical music. He was born in what is now the modern day Czech Republic in 1841. As a musical performer, he was a highly prolific violinist, even as a child when he started at the age of six.  As a composer, he was primarily influenced by fellow czech compare Bedrock Smetana in that he incorporated various aspects of bohemian folk music within a number of his works. As he became highly recognized throughout Europe he then moved to the United States to be the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. While the director of the NCMA he wrote his 9th symphony (new world symphony) which to day has stood the test of time, and has given him a place in classical music history.


Fox, Sam (1971). “John Philip Sousa Music and Personal Papers, circa 1880-1932.” The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.  

John Philip Sousa was a composer of the late 19th, and early 20th century born in Washington D.C. in the year 1854. He began as a violinist and began composing music at a very young age.  He had an interest with other instruments such as, trombone, cornet, and even voice. He possibly may have held aspirations of doing music for a circus. His father, who was opposed to that, enlisted him in the US Marine Corps as an apprentice musician to help keep him occupied. He left at the age of 20 and worked shortly with an orchestral pit before rejoining 5 years later. At this rejoining, Sousa was leader of the presidents own band, where he composed 137 marches; many of which are well known to this day. Some of his most well known works are”stars and stripes forever” and “Sempre Fidelis”.


Pollack, Howard (2006). George Gershwin: His Life and Work. Berkeley: University of California Press

George Gershwin was a compares of the early 20th century born in New York City in the year 1898. He was a person who was rather disinterested in music for some time as a child until he saw a childhood friend play at a recital. As a child his parents, bought a piano that was originally meant for his older brother Ira, but George later on started learning himself how to play piano. He worked at a store that produced piano rolls as a teenager. It is at this place where he got interested in composing music. He eventually started making rolls of his own music. Gershwin began working with his senior composer William Delay. He began co-composing for a number of his works, which were primarily musicals. He also worked a bit with a songwriter named Buddy Desylva. After that in 1924 he began to work almost exclusively with his brother Ira up until his death in 1938. Some of his most famous works are “Strike up the Band” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Summertime.”

Week 5


Bill Milton (Me): The composer

New West Symphony Harmony Ensembles: Performers of the music.             Two ensembles (one of middle school students from De Anza) and another from high schoolers from Ventura High)

Caitlin Boruch: Ensemble Director

Sam Class: Documentation Assistant.

What: The project will showcase a certain set of music outlining the evolution of contemporary music from classical 1890s romantic/impressionist music to jazz music of the 1930s.

When: April 19th and 21st

Where: De Anza Middle School (April 19th) and Bell Arts Factory (April 21st)

Why: I aspire to share my musical wisdom from those who have come before me to those who have come after me. And mutually explore how contemporary music evolved from classical romantic music to jazz music.

How: I will be meeting with the chamber ensemble every Wednesday and the advanced quintet every Friday to assist rehearsal of my arrangements, as well as researching for certain notable yet easy to play music to arrange for said groups to play.