The University of Wisconsin Press

German-American Studies / Music


Land without Nightingales
Music in the Making of German-America
Edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Otto Holzapfel

Despite the laments of some nineteenth-century German immigrants that America was a land bereft of poetry and song, a "land without nightingales," the history of German American music is a rich one.

This book explores the wide variety of forms of musical expression among German-speaking immigrants to America and their descendants from the eighteenth century to the present. Topics range from Moravian music in colonial America to musical life among twenty-first century Canadian Hutterites, from polka music to German singing societies, from Lutheran hymns to the songs of German-speaking Catholic and Jewish immigrants, and from the songs of German-speaking Swiss settlers to the music of immigrants from the Burgenland region of Austria.

Underlying these diverse contributions is a common theme—the constant interplay between the German and American sides of the hyphen of "German-American" to be found in all these musical styles. A companion CD includes musical selections that complement and expand upon this theme.

The contributors—historians, musicologists, folklorists, and scholars of German studies—include Philip V. Bohlman, Alan R. Burdette, Kathleen Neils Conzen, Otto Holzapfel, James P. Leary, Laurence Libin, Rudolf Pietsch, A. Gregg Roeber, Leo Schelbert, and Helmut Wulz.

Philip V. Bohlman teaches ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago, where he also serves on the Jewish Studies faculty. Otto Holzapfel of the German Folk-Song Archive (Deutsches Volksliedarchiv), Freiburg, Germany, has also collaborated with Philip Bohlman in producing The Folk Songs of the Ashkenaz, documenting music in the daily lives of the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.

Distributed for the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies

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The cover of Land without Nightingales is blue with ghosted images and three black and white snapshots of German American musicans.

January 2002

310 pp.   6 x 9
30 b/w photos, 2 maps, 9 illus.
17 musical transcriptions

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Updated December 10, 2012

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