"American Classical Music" at Berklee This Summer

Berklee Office of Communications
April 5, 2011
Mark O'Connor performs at Berklee in 2009.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

In his decades of prominence as a classical and folk violinist and composer, Mark O'Connor has done a lot of thinking about the intersection of genres and cultures. Those thoughts recently took shape in a manifesto on "American classical music," excerpted below. O'Connor debuts a Berklee twist on his popular string camp at the college this summer, June 27–July 1.

. . . I don't need to recount the great works American composers have produced. I don't need to describe the monumental impact they have had on classical, stage, and film music worldwide. But I do need to emphasize that American classical composers never found common cause, largely because too few of them were dedicated enough to harnessing the colors, textures, melodies, and rhythms of this country. A widespread affinity for musical structures and philosophies developed by Europeans, coupled with skepticism of the value of America's own musical heritage, thwarted the establishment of an American classical idiom.

I also have no quarrel with masterpieces from Europe, but we are not Europe's musical colony. Our own musical resources are too vast and too rich for so many serious American composers to continue to reject.

Allow me, then, to describe my solution to our identity problem. . . .

Read the manifesto.

Learn more about the Mark O'Connor/Berklee Summer String Program.


O'Connor performs his Double Violin Concerto with student Julgi Kang and the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra in December 2009.