The State’s Canon: The United States Information Agency and American Music Abroad.
Based on newly declassified documents from the National Archives, this presentation explores a musical canon exported by the United States Information Agency (USIA). The USIA shipped packets containing recordings, scores, parts, and lectures about music to US Information Centers abroad. These packets included jazz, classical, folk, and musical theater, from avant-garde to “light music.”
Information Centers offered “concerts of recorded music” and arranged performances, radio broadcasts, and exhibits featuring this music. The USIA’s canon embodied an attractive portrait of America’s ethnic and stylistic diversity, engaging diverse audiences and quieting concerns about the treatment of minorities in the United States.