A Review of Douglas Shadle's Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise

  • Serena Hoernig Christopher Newport University


In his book Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise, Douglas W. Shadle investigates the evolution of America’s musical identity through the development of the American symphony. Drawing together the stories of many forgotten nineteenth-century American composers and gathering a wide range of critiques, press releases, and composer-media correspondence, Shadle seeks to unveil the nuances of American symphonic repertoire. Orchestrating the Nation’s narrow focus on the American symphony with specific examples of its progress is a unique contribution to the literature on the development of American music. Twelve chapters preceded by the Introduction, concluded by the Epilogue, and divided in half by an Interlude comprise the 330-page text; each of these chapters addresses either fundamental events involving the American symphony or specific composers whose symphonies and the reception thereof give insight into the fading of the symphony as a popular musical style in the United States.