Included among these publications are David Caute, The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War (Oxford, 2003); Robert Haddow, Pavilions of Plenty: Exhibiting American Culture Abroad in the 1950s (Washington, DC, 1997); Walter Hixson, Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945–1961 (New York, 1997); “Disguise, Containment and the Porgy and Bess Revival of 1952–56,” Journal of American Studies 35 (August 2001): 275–312; Naima Prevots, Dance for Export: Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War (Middletown, CT, 1998); Eric J. Sandeen, Picturing an Exhibition: The Family of Man and 1950s America (Albuquerque, NM, 1995); Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York, 2000); Penny M. Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (Cambridge, MA, 2004); Reinhold Wagnleitner, Coca-Colonization and the Cold War: The Cultural Mission of the United States after the Second World War (Chapel Hill, NC, 1994); and Ian Wellens, Music on the Frontline: Nicolas Nabokov's Struggle against Communism and Middlebrow Culture (Burlington, VT, 2002).,
Creating Something Out of Nothing: The Office of Inter-American Affairs Music Committee (1940–1941) and the Inception of a Policy for Musical Diplomacy
Article first published online: 19 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
Volume 36, Issue 1, pages 29–39, January 2012
How to Cite
CAMPBELL, J. L. (2012), Creating Something Out of Nothing: The Office of Inter-American Affairs Music Committee (1940–1941) and the Inception of a Policy for Musical Diplomacy. Diplomatic History, 36: 29–39. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7709.2011.01006.x
- Issue published online: 19 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 19 JAN 2012
Within the last twenty years several historians, musicologists, and dance scholars have published their findings regarding the relationship between the U.S. government and its exportation of American culture through music and dance.1 This relatively recent body of work largely focuses on the Cold War period and understandably so as this was, by all accounts, the height of U.S. artistic exchange with other countries. Although these scholarly contributions exhibit a variety of ways of handling the intermingling of culture and politics, most authors neglect, and even ignore, the connections between the “cultural Cold War” and the events that preceded it in South America during the 1940s,2 when the State Department and the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) initiated a program of cultural propaganda to strengthen alliances between the United States and South America.3 In this article I argue that the model for American musical diplomacy was established much earlier through the work of the OIAA Music Committee and that an examination of the precedent set by this committee results in a fuller understanding of the events that took place thereafter. I discuss the circumstances surrounding the creation of the OIAA Music Committee, as it was a relatively new initiative on behalf of the U.S. government; explore the objectives and artistic priorities of the committee members and the processes by which projects were selected for government funding; and conclude by looking at how the decisions of this committee, made with the input and the approval of the U.S. government, formed an unwritten policy for U.S. musical diplomacy that would be revisited during similar subsequent undertakings.
For much of their history, relations between the United States and Latin American countries have been fraught with tension broken by moments of repose, and by the 1930s these relationships had once again deteriorated substantially.4 Latin American economic prosperity depended heavily upon the financial stability of the United States, so the stock market crash of 1929 and the economic depression that followed wreaked havoc on the economic infrastructure of Latin America, generating distrust and strengthening existing hostility that the Latin American peoples and their governments held toward the United States. This increasing feeling of ill will concerned American officials, and, soon after taking office in 1933, President Roosevelt outlined his “Good Neighbor Policy,” a plan to strengthen trade and cultural relations within the Western Hemisphere that offered the first steps in rebuilding the United States' relationship with Latin America. The attention of the United States, and particularly of President Roosevelt, turned to the Latin American situation most dramatically when the Nazi and Fascist threats in Europe began to intensify. Disturbing reports about wellsprings of Latin American pro-Axis allegiance began to reach Roosevelt's office, causing U.S. officials to abruptly and aggressively look south. As a result of these concerns, the State Department announced the establishment of the Division of Cultural Relations in 1938, a unit largely created to counter the Nazi propaganda and anti-American sentiment that were believed to be building in several South American countries.5
The State Department's attempt to implement a kind of cultural propaganda was poorly funded and encumbered by bureaucratic red tape, but it served to stimulate support for another government office, one with the financial means to actually initiate a program of cultural exportation. This new, well-funded entity, originally christened as the Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations between American Republics (OCCCRBAR) and later renamed as the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), emerged in 1940 and was placed under the direction of Nelson Rockefeller (grandson of oil titan John D. Rockefeller) and the broader aegis of the Council of National Defense.6 Rockefeller initiated a program intended to woo Latin American republics into becoming inter-American allies; his planned cultural tactics included the exportation of music, art, and film, and he established advisory committees in each these areas shortly after taking office.
Charged with uniting North and South America through music, the OIAA Music Committee met for the first time on November 6, 1940. The committee served in more than just an advisory capacity, as it had an initial budget of $100,000 (almost 1.5 million today) to subsidize music projects geared toward strengthening inter-American relations, making it the first committee of its type to have dedicated funding to implement its ideas.7 The solidification of the financial component, however, did not necessarily expedite the committee's work; because cultural diplomacy was a new phenomenon in the United States, there were no clearly stated objectives for the program and no established protocol for the committee to follow. The only instruction previously agreed upon in government circles was that the musicians and music sent to represent the United States abroad must be the “best” of what the United States had to offer.8
Without a clear policy or instructions to guide them, the members of the committee were left to their own discretion to choose projects to be funded, and the diverse membership of the group meant that opinions about direction and overall purpose varied. Three of the five, Marshall Bartholomew, Carleton Sprague Smith, and Aaron Copland, were actively working in the field of music. Bartholomew was the director of the Yale University Glee Club, and Smith was the chief of the New York Public Library's Music Division and an active musicologist; Copland was the president of the American Composers Alliance, as well as a nationally recognized composer. These men primarily focused their efforts on promoting American art music—concert music in the classical tradition—largely to bolster American cultural prestige and to refute the widely held belief that the United States was a culturally and musically impoverished country. The two remaining members brought different professional backgrounds and varied personal interests to the group. William Berrien, who represented the American Council of Learned Societies, was not a professional musician, but rather an expert on Latin America and romance languages; Evans Clark was the executive director of the Twentieth Century Fund, a private research-based organization, and was interested in the commercial and lucrative possibilities of Latin American music.9
The differing interests of the five members gave rise to lively debates about the priority of potential projects, and the minutes of their meetings reveal the importance of an unwritten extramusical criterion that loomed over every decision: reputation. The committee's perception of the national prestige of a performer or ensemble played a hefty role in getting a favorable response from the members, and their deliberation over sending an orchestra to Latin America offers one example. When Mr. Coke wrote to the committee to recommend that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra receive funding for a tour in Mexico, Copland sought out some feedback from a personal friend. He wrote to Mexican composer Carlos Chávez about the idea; Chávez answered less than favorably, stating that “while [the orchestra] may be quite first class, it does not yet rate as one of the leading American orchestras.”10 Similar proposals for orchestral tours found their way into the committee members' hands. Mr. Bullitt of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association contacted the committee, desiring their support to help underwrite a trip to Havana, Cuba, by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.11 The Rochester Philharmonic, which would be accompanied by piano soloist José Iturbi, also requested funding for their South American tour.12 These proposals failed to impress the committee members, but the group did warm to the idea of investing government dollars to send an orchestra abroad and set aside $75,000 for a tour to take place.13 The committee eventually identified the Boston Symphony (BSO) as their orchestra of choice; one member described the group as “our [the United States's] most superior ensemble.”14 (And although the BSO's reputation was indeed outstanding, it likely helped that Serge Koussevitzky championed much of Copland's music and that the two were close friends and colleagues.)
A close reading of the Music Committee's minutes, then, indicates that they had an unofficial policy for choosing those who would represent the music of the United States to South America. For any promising suggestion, the committee evaluated the reputation of the performer or ensemble; if they deemed the prestige factor substantial enough, then the Music Committee members examined the proposed repertoire. In their first meeting, the members agreed that artists involved in performing American music abroad should “try to present at least some representative compositions or folk music on practically every program.”15 To this committee, “representative” meant art music or possibly folk music, but not jazz.16 By interpreting the word “representative” according to their preferences, and selecting groups accordingly based on their repertoire, the OIAA Music Committee was able to shape the type of American musical identity that it sent abroad. This identity was largely “highbrow” (meaning serious music by native American composers), but it was infused with leftist ideals that promoted accessible art music and folk song while rejecting highly dissonant, “elitist” music and the aforementioned, commercially tainted jazz. Music by American composers writing in the modernist or ultramodernist style of composition, such as Ruth Crawford Seeger, Carl Ruggles, and Wallingford Riegger, was generally avoided in favor of populist and stylistically conservative tonal works.
As the Music Committee meetings continued, it became evident that the larger the quantity of “representative” music in the repertoire, the better the chances of a performer or ensemble being selected for funding. The approval of a tour by the Yale Glee Club, for example, hinged on the committee's condition that a “considerable proportion” of every concert be dedicated to North American music.17 With regard to possible sponsorship of the Edwin Franko Goldman Band, the committee required that music from North and South America comprise exactly half the repertoire presented in each performance.18 In the case of Arthur Rubinstein, the members declined all support for a South American tour by the pianist, recommending instead that Rubinstein “interest himself” in performing works by American composers.19 By January 1941, the committee concurred that they would only consider artists and ensembles if the bulk of the planned repertoire represented North (and to a lesser extent South) America and if European classical music was kept to a minimum.20
In the end, the Music Committee underwrote, either partially or in full, the 1941 South American tours of three groups—the Yale Glee Club, the League of Composers Wind Quintet, and the American Ballet Caravan.21 These ensembles received financial support from the committee because each one proposed to perform a substantial portion of American music, either art music or folk music, at every concert. As evident in an extant program from a performance at the Teatro Odeón in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at least one-third of the selections presented by the Yale Glee Club represented the folk music of the United States, which on this particular occasion included five sea chanties, three spirituals, one work song (“This Old Hammer”), and one Appalachian tune (“Cindy”).22 Few details survive about the repertoire of League of Composers Wind Quintet, but Smith compiled a list 111 modern works, most by North and South American composers, from which the concert programs were supposedly drawn.23 As for the Ballet Caravan, the initial proposal emphasized the sheer quantity of American works that the company planned to perform, stating that eight of the twelve ballets were based on American themes with American music.24 The national character of the Ballet Caravan's repertoire resonated deeply with the Music Committee members, who felt this heavily weighted emphasis on contemporaryAmerican works provided a significant and necessary contrast to the European music performed by Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stokowski during their South American tours in the previous year.25 The final list of works for the ensemble included ballets by Copland (Billy the Kid; Time Table), Virgil Thomson (Filling Station), Paul Bowles (Pastorela), and Alec Wilder (Juke Box).
Although the efforts of the OIAA Music Committee were largely aimed at promoting a pleasing and sophisticated image of U.S. culture to its Latin American neighbors, the committee's view of the relationship was not entirely one sided. According to the minutes of their meetings, the members believed that reciprocity—commissioning and performing South American music, and, when possible, bringing composers and ensembles north—was essential if the overall endeavor was to be effective. This emphasis on reciprocal exchange bore important weight during this time and was a characteristic of early cultural diplomacy that was later altered, disfigured, and even forgotten in future incarnations of the program.
Although the Music Committee pushed to bring Latin American music and musicians to this country, several obstacles prevented them from doing so. The most frustrating and complicated impediment to engaging South American groups involved labor unions, in particular the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The committee was advised that the AFM was “sympathetically aware” of the need for inter-American musical exchange, but the AFM declared it could not allow musicians from South America to perform for money because unemployment for musicians in North America was rampant, resulting in unrelenting pressure to restrict all available jobs to the union's membership.26 Because the direct and obvious path to musical exchange was out of the question, the Music Committee looked for alternative solutions.
Two of the groups sponsored by the committee embraced the members' philosophy of musical reciprocity and made a concerted effort to do their part for inter-American understanding.27 The Yale Glee Club performed music by contemporary South American composers, including works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Alberto Williams, and Camargo Guarnieri, as well as the Brazilian national anthem.28 Lincoln Kirstein, director of the American Ballet Caravan, actively sought to purchase works by South American composers and artists. While in Brazil, for instance, Kirstein chose to support composer Francisco Mignone, purchasing his piano concerto Fantasia Brasileira, No. 4, for a new ballet that would be choreographed by George Balanchine and later premiered in Chile.29 Although the efforts by both groups were well intentioned and met with some success, the results paled in comparison to the grandiose ideas for inter-American musical exchange that the OIAA Music Committee had envisioned; this troublesome inequality, and the lack of power to rectify it, became a source of great frustration to the membership.
Although the OIAA Music Committee members primarily focused on issues of musical identity and selection process, the planning and implementation of the tours also created a precedent. Even in this early stage of cultural diplomacy, decisions about the location of performances were not the sole responsibility of the Music Committee but were partially influenced by other government officials who had specific criteria and motivations to send the performers to select countries. For instance, in planning the Yale Glee Club tour, Bartholomew, the director of the group, had decided not to perform in Ecuador, Colombia, or Venezuela because of the “inaccessibility of their principal cities and the difficult problems of transportation.” However, Bartholomew later reconsidered, seemingly having received some new information about the need to focus on these countries, noting: “Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador are of very particular interest to the United States at the present time because of their geography. There are many indications that it is of particular importance for us to leave no stone unturned which will develop a friendly spirit between these countries and ourselves.”30
Additionally, the person-to-person interaction that complemented these music tours also became important. Performers were expected to attend diplomatic functions and parties, play free concerts, reach out to the public, and essentially be ambassadors for the United States, a precedent set by the Yale Glee Club, whose itinerary was packed with social events, as well as by the Ballet Caravan, whose dancers were as busy attending parties as they were giving performances. Good ambassadorial behavior (i.e., positive interaction with the local residents) by U.S. performers was imperative, as indicated to Nelson Rockefeller in an anonymous report from an observer in Chile, detailing the actions of the Yale Glee Club: “Conduct of the boys was exemplary. They were quiet, refrained from getting stinko in public, and were the best ad the U.S. has had down here in a long time.”31 Being a good ambassador would become as important as being a good musician—perhaps even more important—and by 1961, it became official policy to require appropriate “off-stage” activities.32
In June 1941, State Department officials formed their own Advisory Committee on Music, marking the beginning of the end for the OIAA group, and by October 1941, the OIAA Music Committee was dissolved, and the potential for music tours temporarily faded along with it.33 The legacy of OIAA Music Committee members remained, however, as their actions confirmed to U.S. officials that music could provoke a response in the international community. The creation and financial security of the OIAA Music Committee had allowed, for the first time in U.S. government history, state and nonstate actors to experiment with how music might accomplish objectives in international relations. U.S. officials and OIAA Music Committee members hoped that inter-American musical exchange would increase understanding of North/South American music, which in turn could foster friendship between people of the continents through the recognition that all “Americans” share an emotional affinity for music that can be celebrated in spite of musical stylistic difference. There was no concrete proof, however, that this tactic would be effective until the OIAA Music Committee tours took place. The reports, newspaper clippings, and correspondence about these tours that reached the Music Committee members, Rockefeller, and other leaders in charge of U.S. cultural affairs were largely favorable, creating the superficial perception that the positive responses these musical events garnered were also pro-U.S. Although the South American reaction to the tours was far more nuanced, the generalized interpretation of this feedback broadly suggested that music indeed had power and that its power could be harnessed to elicit desired responses. This fundamental, even naïve, belief continued into the Cold War, when many state and nonstate actors harbored personal and political agendas and attempted to use musical diplomacy to accomplish their own goals.34
Several individuals connected to the OIAA committee and the tours it sponsored played a role in the resurgence of cultural diplomatic efforts during the Cold War, including Smith, Copland, and Kirstein, but perhaps the most influential figure was not an arts practitioner but a politician: Nelson Rockefeller.35 Writing to him in 1955, Kirstein acknowledged Rockefeller's influence on cultural exchange, saying “it was you who started this whole scheme of waging peace by the exportation of art, as far back as 1941; I know what foresight, what courage it took.”36 At the time of Kirstein's letter, Rockefeller was well into his position as special assistant to the president, having been appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in December 1954, and one of his primary duties was serving on the Operations Coordinating Board for the President's Emergency Fund. Created in 1954, this fund financed the exportation of American culture abroad, its coffers supporting tours by Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, the BSO, Martha Graham, and the New York City Ballet, in addition to many others. Although he somewhat surprisingly found himself dealing with the “soft-power” potential of culture when he stepped into his position as Coordinator of the OIAA, Rockefeller became in many ways the linchpin that helped the exercise of such power to continue.
In the history of U.S. musical diplomacy and international relations, the efforts of Rockefeller's OIAA Music Committee have remained virtually unrecognized until now. To be fair, this was a small program buried within the massive interior of the expansive New Deal government, and its contribution to the story of artistic exchange became quickly overshadowed in history by the flashier and often controversial cultural events that took place in the decades that followed. Every time there is a national conflict, however, the U.S. government pours money into cultural diplomacy and revives the process. From the early Cold War to today, panels of experts continue to use “best” and “American” as essential selection criteria, although perceptions and interpretations of those terms have changed over time; certain audiences in specific countries continue to be pinpointed; and tour groups are selected as much for the image they will portray to their audience as for their musical excellence.37 Although the OIAA Music Committee existed less than one year, the members, their motivations, decisions, actions, and perceived successes combined to form a groundbreaking paradigm.
One fundamental reason that these tours might have been ignored until now is the location of the source materials. Most scholars who research cultural exchange consult the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection at the University of Arkansas, where there is very little material on the State Department's use of culture prior to 1950 and scant information about the tours supported by the OIAA.
My research encompasses several different types of material, such as government documents and reports, newspaper articles and editorials, books and journal articles, and personal correspondence. These primary source materials are held in U.S. libraries and archives, including the Aaron Copland Collection at the Library of Congress, the Ballet Society Archive in New York City, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection at the University of Arkansas, the National Archives (II), the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Research Collections of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Yale Glee Club Records at Yale University.
There are two studies that acknowledge the general importance of the OIAA to later developments in cultural diplomacy. See J. Manuel Espinosa, Inter-American Beginnings of U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, 1936–1948 (Washington, DC, 1976) and the more recent work by Richard T. Arndt, The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Dulles, VA, 2005), 49–160. Neither of these authors, however, addresses the musical exchanges of the OIAA in detail.
My understanding of the U.S. government's political relationship with Latin America during the 1930s and 1940s has been informed by a number of historical studies, particularly Irwin F. Gellman, Good Neighbor Diplomacy: United States Policies in Latin America, 1933–1945 (Baltimore, 1979); Robert H. Holden and Eric Zolov, eds., Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History (New York, 2000); Fredrick B. Pike, FDR's Good Neighbor Policy: Sixty Years of Generally Gentle Chaos (Austin, TX, 1995); Peter H. Smith, Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S–Latin American Relations (New York, 1996); Randall B. Woods, The Roosevelt Foreign-Policy Establishment and the “Good Neighbor” (Lawrence, KS, 1979).
For details about the State Department's Division of Cultural Relations, see Espinosa, Inter-American Beginnings of U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, 1936–1948.
For the various titles of the OIAA, see “A History of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs,” Office of Inter-American Affairs/General Records, Record Group (RG) 229, box 511, OIAA/National Archives and Records Administration (II), College Park, MD (hereafter NACP). The acronym CIAA has also been used by some authors, particularly those writing about Nelson Rockefeller.
Author Cary Reich also provides the background and details surrounding the establishment of this position in his book The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller (New York, 1996), 174–88.
For the minutes of the OIAA Music Advisory Committee Meetings, see the Aaron Copland Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Correspondence, Committee for Inter-American Affairs, folders 9–12, box 355 (hereafter as “Minutes,” date, CCLC, folder/box).
A summary of the Music Committee's expenditures for 1940–41 and budget for 1941–42 are included in the minutes of the “Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Music to the Department of State,” June 13, 1941, 8–11; Advisory Committee on Music, 1941–1944; RG 353.3, box 30, NACP.
Address of the Honorable A. A. Berle, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, in the “Conference on Inter-American Relations in the Field of Music: Digest of Proceedings,” Appendix, 3, in Records of the Conferences on Inter-American Relations, 1939–1940; Records of the Interdepartmental Advisory Council on Technological Cooperation, 1938–1953, RG 353.3, box 30, NACP. In his speech to the conference attendees, Berle articulated this sentiment by declaring, “When you deal with the other American countries you are dealing with a highly sophisticated people. Specifically, when you are undertaking to introduce them to our music, it must be to our very best.”
The Twentieth Century Fund is now known as the Century Foundation, a “nonprofit public policy research institution,”http://www.tcf.org.
“Minutes,” December 5, 1940, CCLC, 9/355.
“Minutes,” December 12, 1940, CCLC, 9/355.
“Minutes,” January 2, 1941, CCLC, 10/355.
“Minutes,” February 27, 1941, CCLC, 10/355.
Letter from Davidson Taylor to Carleton Sprague Smith, July 2, 1941, CCLC, Correspondence, Committee for Inter-American Affairs, 11/355. Koussevitzky responded favorably when approached by committee members about this project, but plans for the tour halted soon thereafter when the OIAA Music Committee was forced to merge with the newly formed State Department Music Advisory Committee in the summer of 1941.
“Minutes,” November 11, 1940, CCLC, 9/355.
“Minutes,” April 17, 1941, CCLC, 10/355. The committee's lack of support for the jazz idiom probably emanated more from a detestation of the commercialism associated with the genre than from a bias strictly against the art form or those who created it.
“Minutes,” November 20, 1940, CCLC, 9/355. Evans Clark suggested that at least one-third of the Glee Club repertoire sung at each performance should be North American music, but the members never agreed on a fixed percentage.
“Minutes,” February 6, 1941, CCLC, 10/355.
“Minutes,” November 27, 1940, CCLC, 9/355.
“Minutes,” January 23 and 25, 1941, CCLC, 10/355. The committee likely would have required Koussevitzky and the BSO to adhere to these requirements, too, although the planning for the potential tour ceased before the issue of repertoire was addressed.
For further details about these three tours and their reception in South America, see Jennifer L. Campbell, “Shaping Solidarity: Music, Diplomacy, and Inter-American Relations, 1936–1946” (Ph.D. diss., University of Connecticut, 2010).
For the entire program, see Yale Glee Club Records (RU 342), Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
Memorandum from Philip Barbour to Members of the Music Committee, June 2, 1941, CCLC, 10/355.
Lincoln Kirstein, “American Ballet Caravan: Proposal for Tour in South American Republics,” Ballet Society Collection, RG6, file 3115, Ballet Society Archive, New York, New York (hereafter BSA).
“Minutes,” January 23 and 25, 1941, CCLC, 10/355. The Toscanini and Stokowski tours were privately funded by radio conglomerates NBC and CBS, respectively, and not supported by federal dollars.
Letter from Michael Myerberg to Carleton Sprague Smith, December 20, 1940, CCLC, 10/355.
Not enough evidence survives from the League of Composers Wind Quintet tour to determine if musical reciprocity was a priority for the group.
Marshall Bartholomew, “Report of the Yale Glee Club South American Concert Tour,” folder 102, box 12, Record Group (RG) 4 (Nelson A. Rockefeller/O/Washington DC/Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs), Rockefeller Family Archives, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, NY (hereafter NAR/O/Washington DC/CIAA, RFA/RAC).
Lincoln Kirstein, “American Ballet Caravan: Proposal for Tour in South American Republics,” 2–3, Ballet Society Collection, RG 6, file 3115, BSA.
Letter to Carleton Sprague Smith from Marshall Bartholomew, January 7, 1941, CCLC, 10/355. The information Bartholomew received about these countries is unknown.
The issues of target audience and location greatly concerned government officials during the Cold War, especially with regard to convincing other countries that the United States was, in fact, making progress in the area of internal race relations. United States Information Agency (USIA) and State Department officials believed that sending successful African Americans abroad as ambassadors of the United States could largely improve international opinion about America. In the field of music, this belief translated into financial support from the State Department for tours by jazz performer Louis Armstrong, vocalist Marian Anderson, and composer Ulysses S. Kay, among others. For a discussion on Ulysses S. Kay, his involvement with U.S. cultural diplomacy, and the issue of race relations, see Emily Abrams Ansari, “ ‘Masters of the President's Music’: Cold War Composers and the United States Government” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2010), 285–336.
One particular tactic remarked upon by Penny von Eschen was to send African American musicians to African countries to counterbalance the “increasingly visible U.S. political and military interventions in Africa” in the 1960s. Von Eschen notes that Louis Armstrong's State Department–sponsored tour of Africa in 1960–61 marked the intensification of sending African American musicians, such as the Gold Gate Quartet (gospel) and the Cozy Cole Jazz Revue, to the African continent. For further details about these tours, see Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 58–78.
Anonymous letter from Santiago, Chile, to Nelson Rockefeller, July 24, 1941, folder 102, box 12, RG 4 (NAR/O/Washington DC/CIAA), RFA/RAC.
Draft of the “Handbook for the Cultural Presentations Program of the United States Government,” box 47, file 9, RG II, Series I, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Historical Collection (CU), University of Arkansas, Fayatteville, Arkansas. “It is the policy of the Department to place as much emphasis on ‘off-stage’ activities as on artistic performance in this Program,” ibid., 27. The need for suitable ambassadorial behavior became directly linked to the broader objectives of State Department officials, who wanted to use music and musicians to reach audiences in specific locations and needed as much assurance as possible that every ensemble sent abroad would make a positive impression on and off the stage. According to the handbook, the experts on the Cultural Presentations Program advisory panels were considered “qualified to judge not only the artistic excellence, but also the general suitability of artists.” The criteria for selection were further defined in that “(a) Only those artists rated to be among the ‘outstanding’ in their field will be sent and (b) only those artists in the outstanding category willing and suited to make extensive off-stage appearances will be considered, since such off-stage appearances are considered to be almost as important, if not fully as important, as artistic performance, and therefore vital to the overall impact and success of each tour,” ibid., 16.
“Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Music to the Department of State,” June 13, 1941, and “Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Music to the Department of State,” October 1941, 1–2, 4, Advisory Committee on Music, 1941–1944, Records of the Interdepartmental Advisory Council on Technological Cooperation, 1938–1953; RG 353.3, box 30, NACP. The State Department music committee received no funding and acted solely in an advisory capacity, severely curtailing the implementation of new initiatives. “Since the Department of State has up to July 1, 1943 received no funds specifically granted for music activities, its principal role in this field has been that of facilitating and assisting the work of other agencies.”“Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Music to the Department of State,” June 24, 1942, p. 19. Advisory Committee on Music, 1941–44, Records of the Interdepartmental Advisory Council on Technological Cooperation, 1938–1953; RG 353.3, box 30, NACP.
For more on Cold War musical diplomacy and specific agendas, see the articles in this volume by Emily Abrams Ansari, Danielle Fossler-Lussier, and Jessica Gienow-Hecht.
Smith continued his support of musical diplomacy by acting as a member of the American National Theater and Academy (ANTA)/State Department Music Advisory panels from 1954 to 1971. Copland maintained a lengthy connection with the State Department that lasted for almost forty years, repeatedly receiving grants between 1941 and 1978 to travel abroad on behalf of the United States and promote American music. Kirstein later collaborated with the State Department to send the New York City Ballet on six cultural exchanges between 1955 and 1972, and he also served as a member of the ANTA Dance Advisory Panel from 1955 to 1960. For details on Copland and Smith, see Ansari, “ ‘Masters of the President's Music’: Cold War Composers and the United States Government,” 356, 365–66. The lists of ANTA Dance Panel members are published in Naima Prevots, Dance for Export, 147–49. For the number of State Department tours by the New York City Ballet, see Erika Kinetz, “The Battle for Hearts, Minds and Toes,”New York Times, October 29, 2006.
Letter from Lincoln Kirstein to Nelson Rockefeller, June 17, 1955, folder 615, box 80, RG 4 (NAR/O/Washington DC/CIAA), RFA/RAC.
For more on the connections between OIAA Music Committee/tours and Cold War/post–Cold War musical diplomacy, see Campbell, “Shaping Solidarity: Music, Diplomacy, and Inter-American Relations, 1936–1946,” 225–44. With regard to post–Cold War musical diplomacy, I focus on the Jazz Ambassadors/Rhythm Road initiative that began in the late 1990s and continues today, and I include details from an interview with Mark Larsen, then deputy director for citizen exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (phone interview with author, June 29, 2007).