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Exhibits

Currently at Sousa

Anna Fay Herron and Bohumir Kryl: Mementos from the Women’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois (November 11, 2019 – November 1, 2020).

In 1943 Bohumir Kryl (1875-1961) formed the Kryl Women’s Symphony Orchestra, which toured across the Midwest and East Coast between 1943 and 1949.  All-women music ensembles first appeared in the United States in the early 19th century as novelty acts.  During America’s Suffrage Movement (1848-1919) many women’s symphonies were established to give their musicians opportunities to perform classical music professionally.  After Congress ratified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in 1920, nearly 30 all-women’s bands and orchestras performed around the country.  By the start of WWII, most women’s symphonies had disbanded as these musicians began to gain footholds in male-dominated orchestras when the men left their positions to serve overseas in the war.  Kryl’s decision to hire female musicians for his ensemble’s 1943-1944 tour was most likely opportunistic.   Kryl was a demanding and temperamental orchestra director who did not always treat his women musicians with respect.  He was frequently skeptical of both their musical abilities and attention to artistic details as performers. However, several of his women musicians had very successful music careers after leaving his orchestra, and the professional experience that his symphony provided them was invaluable.  For Anna Fay Herron who was born and raised in Central Illinois, the ensemble was the first step in a nearly fifty-year career as a local music educator and performer. This exhibit documents some of her daily experiences performing oboe and traveling as a member of the Kryl Women’s Symphony Orchestra of Chicago, and sheds new light on this once forgotten women’s ensemble and its director.

John Philip Sousa — America’s Legacy through his Music, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 1, 2019 – September 28, 2020.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) is one of America’s most recognized composers and bandleaders, and much of his music reflects his unflagging patriotism and musical response to major national and international events that affected the country during his lifetime.  He wrote over 336 original compositions, and arranged and transcribed an additional 322 works, many of which he produced while on his band’s numerous tours.  Sousa was not only the creator of America’s most recognized marches, but also a master of grand theatrical entertainment through them.  He is credited with transforming the simple repetitive da capo form of early march melodies into much more dramatic trio forms.  His most popular marches – The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Liberty Bell, and the Invincible Eagle – reflect these changes in style, where dramatic contrasts between woodwind solos and energetic low-brass ritornellos give way to rousing lyrical finales that always energized concert audiences.  This exhibit of original scores highlights some of Sousa’ composition techniques, and documents the historical events that inspired the March King to craft these works.

Prohibition — America’s Folly and John Philip Sousa,  Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, July 25, 2019 – June 30, 2020.

On November 11, 1918, American troops began returning home from the European trenches of WWI after the Allies and Germany signed the Armistice of Compiègne. Despite the horrors young servicemen experienced overseas they were not allowed to drink alcohol on U.S. soil.  Seven days after signing the Armistice, Congress passed the Temporary Wartime Prohibition Act banning the sale of liquids with an alcohol content greater than 1.28%. The following January Congress ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the sale of alcohol. In October 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which enforced the new Amendment by establishing a legal definition for intoxicating liquors and introducing severe penalties for producing, selling, and purchasing alcohol. This Federal Act also made it illegal to carry even an empty pocket flask on the streets. The 18th Amendment, known as Prohibition, officially took effect in 1920 and was not repealed until 1933, when Congress passed the 21st Amendment.  During the height of the government’s crackdown on alcohol production and consumption, Sousa composed his musical humoresque, “The Mingling of the Wets and the Drys,” which highlighted America’s two opposing views of Prohibition. However, during its planned premiere performance at the Ocean Grove Auditorium in New Jersey on July 10, 1926, numerous moralist groups called for a boycott of the concert if Sousa did not remove the humoresque from the concert program.  This exhibit examines the fallout of the first performances of “The Mingling of the Wets and the Drys” and illustrates the effects of America’s 18th Amendment on John Philip Sousa and his Band during the country’s roaring 1920s.

Samuel S. Stewart and America’s Banjo, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 10, 2018 – January 2, 2020.

Samuel S. Stewart (1855-1898) was born in Philadelphia on January 8th, the son of Dr. Franklin Stewart, and at a very early age took a keen interest in banjo performance after hearing Lew Simmons (b. August 28, 1837) perform “Bell Chimes” at Philadelphia’s Eleventh Street Opera House.  Unhappy with the quality of music that was taught by Dobson and Rickett, Stewart opened his own music school and banjo company in one room on Philadelphia’s 833 Race Street in 1878, and began to elevate the banjo from its lowbrow minstrel legacy to become an iconic symbol of American middle-class gentility.  Stewart is frequently credited with the modernization of America’s banjo.  However, today he is not recognized as a technological innovator but rather a master salesman who excelled at advertising his instruments and teaching methods.  Between 1878 and 1898 Stewart produced and distributed across the country hundreds of promotional broadsides and brochures, catalogs, instruction books, short stories about banjo legends, treatises on banjo construction, a dissertation on the instrument’s history, and perhaps his most significant contribution, the monthly S.S. Stewart’s Banjo and Guitar Journal which was published continuously between 1882 and 1892.  This exhibit documents Stewart’s legacy as one of America’s leading makers of banjos

James Beauchamp and the Harmonic Tone Generator, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 22, 2015 – January 31, 2019.

James W. Beauchamp earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in 1960 and 1961, and in 1965 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD in electrical engineering. While a student at Illinois he worked closely with his mentor and composition professor Lejaren Hiller, and created one of America’s first voltage-controlled electronic music synthesizers called the Harmonic Tone Generator (HTG). The HTG was used in several different electronic music projects produced at the University of Illinois during the 1960s and 70s including Salvatore Martirano’s Underworld.  After graduating from Illinois he joined their electrical engineering faculty, and by 1969 had earned a joint appointment in the electrical engineering and music departments.  Between 1969 and 1973 Beauchamp served as director of the School of Music’s Experimental Music Studios (EMS), and as director of the Computer Music Project (CMP) between 1984 and 1993.  In the fall of 1993 Beauchamp and Sever Tipei became co-managers of CMP.  This exhibit documents through photographs, stories, scientific reports, and audio recordings the early development of the HTG at the University of Illinois.