Research seminar: ‘The Rehearsal’

Wednesday 5 October 2016, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor William Brooks (University of York)

Before the Great War of 1914 there were lesser ones; and there were some that never really happened. On the border between Mexico and the United States, in 1914 and 1916, two of the latter occurred. In retrospect it is clear that these served in part as a rehearsal for America’s participation in the war in Europe. They served also to rehearse the music industry, in all its manifestations, for the wartime activity to come. This paper traces musical America’s response to the evolving narrative on the border, with data compiled from analysis of the Myers Collection (University of Illinois) and the Driscoll Collection (Newberry Library) and from copyright searches, and with two case studies: songs by Irving Berlin and by Ernest R. Ball and J. Kiern Brennan.


William Brooks studied music and mathematics at Wesleyan University (BA 1965), then received degrees in musicology (MM 1971) and composition-theory (DMA 1976) from the University of Illinois. Among his teachers were Charles Hamm in musicology and Ben Johnston, Kenneth Gaburo and Herbert Brün. He has been associated with John Cage as both performer and scholar; he played in the world premiere of HPSCHD and has several times directed productions of Cage’s Song Books. Brooks taught at the University of Illinois (1969-73) and at the University of California (1973-7), then worked as a freelance composer, scholar and performer before returning to the University of Illinois (1987). There he was Associate Professor of Composition, director of the Contemporary Chamber Singers, and Chair of the Composition-Theory Division for many years. In 2000 he took up his present post at the University of York.

Location: Sally Baldwin D Block - I/D/003