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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Music Between the Wars

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | February 10, 2015


No American can deny the impact that two world wars had on the country at the time and in the decades to follow. Many could argue that the period of time between those two wars left its own imprint on history. The Marine Band’s Chamber Music Series performance at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15 explores the unique result that world politics and the economy had on cultural life between World Wars I and II. Coordinated by trumpet/cornet player Master Sgt. David Haglund, the performance will include music by Darius Milhaud, Earnest John Moeran, Bohuslav Martinů, Kurt Weill, George Hamilton Green, and Paul Hindemith.

“When I was offered an opportunity to coordinate an upcoming chamber music series concert, I immediately knew the direction I was headed,” Haglund said. “One period of time that frequently popped up in my past searches for program ideas was the roughly 20 years between the two world wars. The devastation of WWI had a profound effect on the general public and composers were no exception. Some pushed back against established norms and others retreated to more comfortable music that reminded them of happier times.” The growing turmoil in Europe drove many artists and musicians, including four of the six composers on this program, to the U.S. to escape the oppression and uncertainty.

“But in my opinion, there can be no better representation of this era than American jazz,” Haglund continued. He selected three original pieces by xylophone player and composer George Hamilton Green: “Log Cabin Blues,” “Jovial Jasper,” and “Chromatic Foxtrot” which will be performed by Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Bisesi, accompanied by pianist Gunnery Sgt. AnnaMaria Mottola.

American jazz achieved a “Golden Age” of popularity and development in the 1920s and 30s. It could be heard everywhere, from vaudeville acts to jazz groups in tucked away towns to high profile jazz orchestras playing in the big cities. It was a genre marked by performers who wanted to not only demonstrate their talent, but to add their ideas of how American music should look, sound, and feel. Jazz’s growing popularity helped celebrate the “Roaring Twenties,” but was equally important in helping a beleaguered populace forget the trials of the Great Depression.

Green was one of these early jazz musicians and remains one of the most important performers and composers for the xylophone. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, he was part of a musical family. It was in his father’s local band that the twelve-year-old Green began his solo xylophone career. He quickly built his repertoire, and even as a boy could perform a collection of 300 overtures, rhapsodies, and works for both violin and piano. He moved to Chicago and then New York City to begin his recording career. His recordings highlighted the xylophone in a wide variety of novelty ensembles as they performed his original works in addition to the popular tunes, waltzes, and salon dances of that era. It was these original works that laid the foundation of what percussionists still use as their mallet pedagogy.

“A program like this only scratches the surface of so much music and art produced during this important historical period, and I hope the audience leaves with their curiosity piqued as well as being entertained and enlightened,” Haglund said.

Full Program

The Chamber Music Series performance will take place at 2 p.m., Feb. 15, 2015 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall, Marine Barracks Annex which is located at the corner of 7th and K Streets in Washington, D.C. The concert is free and no tickets are required. Free parking is available in the lot under the overpass across the street. The performance will stream live at www.marineband.marines.mil.

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