Featured Article


Yale's Oral History of American Music Celebrates 40 Years
Article Audio

1:23 minutes (0.67 MB)
Download this Article
Share this Content

This week, the Oral History of American Music project at Yale University celebrates 40 years of collecting and preserving the voices of America’s great composers.  WNPR”s Diane Orson reports.

When you hear a composer’s voice you connect with history, says Libby Van Cleve, associate director of the Oral History of American Music project.

"The sound of a voice conveys lots of information that’s really important... Gives you a sense of historical time, gives you a sense of the composer’s personality."

Among OHAM’s most treasured voices is that of Aaron Copland, composer of Fanfare for the Common Man. 

"I was very anxious in some way to express the kind of life I knew in Brooklyn... Or, American life you might say, in our serious music. You see, we had done it in the jazz field, but we hadn’t had any American composers who had reflected the kind of serious music I was interested in."

Yale pays tribute to OHAM this week with concerts at Sprague Hall in New Haven and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  The program includes music by Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Duke Ellington and Eubie Blake.

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.