American society has changed in many ways since 1918, and the musical arts and listeners’ experiences of music have changed with it. In classical music, new compositional styles rose to prominence, and a vast body of new music by a cohort of great composers took its place in our concert halls. There was also an explosive growth of popular music during the past century, and Americans became increasingly familiar with folk, popular, and classical music from many different cultures around the world. In recent decades, scholars and university music programs have embraced those home-grown popular and global repertoires as worthy of serious study and performance. The past century has also seen the rise of near-universal musical training in our primary and secondary schools and the development of music education as a discipline grounded in practical musicianship and social science research. Music therapy emerged to improve the lives of children and adults and is giving us a better understanding of human musical perception and cognition.
Cutting across all of these musical changes has been a technological transformation that continues to alter how we engage with, compose, teach, and perform music. Radio, film, television, and the ongoing digital revolution have opened sound worlds to us, created opportunities for musical expression, and provided musicians with professional tools unimaginable in 1918. Yet the ageless necessity of practicing and mastering one’s voice, instrument, craft, and discipline persists.
The University of Kentucky’s School of Music – internationally recognized for excellence in performance, music education, and research in music – has played an important part in the development of musical life in Kentucky and beyond since 1918.
Stanley C. Pelkey, Ph.D.