The Roaring Twenties/the Jazz age was one of my favorite periods to learn about in my high school US history class. Glad to be coming back to it here with a NW focus.
Both Armbruster and De Barros discuss apparent contradiction between the raucous new society developing while social reform institution such as prohibition also took hold. The specific NW form of this contradiction was the growing of jazz balanced by gilded blue laws and the banning of jazz music. Of course, lots of this was not as clear as it seemed with frequent payoffs of administration officials and policeman, who ended up making a pretty penny off of the illicit side of the same laws they passed/are obligated to enforce.
The development of women’s rights also took some tiptoes in the period as women entertained in jazz halls and even a few made it into symphonies, but as Armbruster describes, it was more of a spectacle than a real appreciation. This made me wonder about the state of music within the home. While some women were pioneering out in the performance side, what of the women who worked/kept house? Were they largely inspired by music and enjoyed playing it in their home? I imagine the women on the forefront of the temperance movement and other social reforms probably did not support women’s involvement in music, often seeing themselves as the keepers of morality in the home.
Back to the symphonies. The NW symphony circuit, according to Armbruster, fared much better than other major cities throughout the early years due to generous private funding. I am curious as to why this is the case. I imagine there were plenty, if not more wealthy individuals in the other major areas, but did they not possess the same ideals for the promotion of music? Was this a function of being in the NW, on the frontier, away from the status quo? I think this asks questions also about how our opinions about music can differ when with a large group/established hierarchy versus on our own or with a smaller group. I definitely think Seattle being kitty cornered up here on the frontier with its rainy weather led a lot of individuals to be a bit more eccentric and willing to discuss the weirder or more creative parts of life. I think the trends of supporting a multitude of musics (though not without some hate and resistance) shows up almost a century later too before and after the new millennium’s turn.