American Music in America

The dollar is soaring, the German mark is low, and American tourists are seizing the opportunity. They travel across the Atlantic, and so does American music. For the next few weeks, it's coming to northern Germany. The Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, which runs from June 8 to August 27, is offering a variety of programs that include works by American composers. There will also be performances by American stars like Bobby McFerrin, Kathleen Battle, Oscar Peterson and Wynton Marsalis. The festival does not shy away from off-mainstream music. Besides popular composers such as Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein, other composers will be included whose sound may be an acquired taste, like John Cage, Elliott Carter, or George Crumb. The selection of music is courageous. Unlike government-supported German orchestras and opera houses, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival is largely paid for by private sponsors. American avant-garde composers have a harder time in their own country, where financial restrictions often lead to risk-averse programming, as Georg Hirsch reports.

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