• U.S.

Music: Relief Melodies

1 minute read

Last week Works Progress Administration’s Music Director Nikolai Sokoloff, onetime conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, reported on what he had done so far with $7,641,814 of Federal funds allocated to his project. To WPA’s payroll were transferred 15,639 players, singers, composers, teachers, librarians, copyists, arrangers, tuners, music-binders from non-musical relief jobs. “Hundreds of musicians,” reported Director Sokoloff, “came with swollen, calloused fingers, with their lips stiff and chapped from unaccustomed toil in inclement weather.” Since December WPA had formed 163 concert orchestras, 51 bands, 15 chamber-music ensembles, 22 choruses and quartets, 69 dance orchestras.

In Boston’s North and South Railroad Stations, in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station, commuters and loafers had paused to listen to Federal band music. Pittsburgh had a 22-piece gypsy orchestra, Chicago a Hungarian ensemble, San Antonio and Tucson tipica orchestras. Dr. John J. Becker had his Horn Concerto played in Boston, Bendetson Netzorg his The Bhalahu in Detroit. WPA musicians will take part this spring in a series of Manhattan concerts showing the history of U. S. music, in a Virginia State Music Festival, in a New Jersey Beethoven Cycle, in a May festival in St. Paul and Minneapolis, in a “Singin’ Gatherin’ ” in the Kentucky hills.

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