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Popularization or Perversion?: Folklore and Folksong in Britten’s Paul Bunyan (1941)

Popularization or Perversion?: Folklore and Folksong in Britten’s Paul Bunyan (1941) SuzANNe robSoN Every day America's destroyed and re-created, America is what you do, America is I and you, America is what you choose to make it. --W. H. Auden, paul bunyan (1941) march 1940, just over a year after W. H. Auden had immigrated to the united States, Time magaze described him as "probably the most spectacular english poet alive."1 benjam britten followed Auden across the Atlantic, arrivg New York June 1939, and was soon recognized as one of england's "most promisg young men of music."2 Due to their reputations, and because they chose to dramatize the life of a much-loved American folk hero, their first operatic collaboration was eagerly anticipated. Yet the premiere of Paul Bunyan New York City may 1941 is generally agreed to have been a critical failure.3 As well as seizg on the episodic nature of the drama and the obvious lack of a coherent narrative, almost all of the critics commented on the authors' ability to capture the essence of an herently American subject. irvg Kolod for the New York Sun concluded that "neither composer nor poet (now livg here) had penetrated far to the sturdy Americanism of this legend."4 ol Downes for http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Popularization or Perversion?: Folklore and Folksong in Britten’s Paul Bunyan (1941)

American Music , Volume 34 (1) – May 27, 2016

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349
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Abstract

SuzANNe robSoN Every day America's destroyed and re-created, America is what you do, America is I and you, America is what you choose to make it. --W. H. Auden, paul bunyan (1941) march 1940, just over a year after W. H. Auden had immigrated to the united States, Time magaze described him as "probably the most spectacular english poet alive."1 benjam britten followed Auden across the Atlantic, arrivg New York June 1939, and was soon recognized as one of england's "most promisg young men of music."2 Due to their reputations, and because they chose to dramatize the life of a much-loved American folk hero, their first operatic collaboration was eagerly anticipated. Yet the premiere of Paul Bunyan New York City may 1941 is generally agreed to have been a critical failure.3 As well as seizg on the episodic nature of the drama and the obvious lack of a coherent narrative, almost all of the critics commented on the authors' ability to capture the essence of an herently American subject. irvg Kolod for the New York Sun concluded that "neither composer nor poet (now livg here) had penetrated far to the sturdy Americanism of this legend."4 ol Downes for

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: May 27, 2016

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