The musical scene confronting thoughtful Americans during the last five years has been a very bewildering one; a huge cyclorama as dark with doubt as it has been bright in promise.
The most personal and least tangible of the arts, once only a way of worship and of solace and delight to simple folk,
and later a crowning grace of the aristocracy, had with advancing professionalism become used ,
as a commodity and often a spectacular display, subject to dickering and ballyhoo.
Now to these incongruities are added those of our economic situation with its displacement of men by machines and its high-powered salesmanship to keep the machines running.
For, thanks to the radio, music has become a primary factor in big business.
Yet music itself, the best, has like a crystal stream flowed through
the centuries, a distillate of life, fed by the common loves,
faiths, and delights of each people and each period in the human’s history spirit,
and by the ardors of a glorious succession of great composers. There it is,
as fresh and vital as ever, and for an increasing number of people one of the supreme needs of life.
During a two-year national survey conducted under the auspices of the
National Recreation Association, the writer of this book followed
this stream in all parts of the United States, and he presents herein
descriptions and interpretations of what may be seen
and heard in the many kinds of places through which it passes.
These scenes are shown to be interrelated, from the most to the most
grand,and to be even more impressive in the possibilities that they suggest . . .