“Paris,” declared the American Review in 1924, “is the capital of America.” This was only slightly in jest. For indeed, well into the 20th century, long after la Belle Epoch and in spite of the devastation of the Great War, Paris was still the cultural capital of the world, an extraordinarily rich hotbed of artistic energy, pushed on by a unique spirit of eclecticism, interdisciplinary synergy, modernism, internationalism and a fascination with everything new or exotic. During the 1920s and ‘30s American artists and musicians of every stamp flocked there and many, like Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cole Porter, moved there more or less permanently. As Stein put it, “Paris is where the 20th century was.”
Oregon Festival of American Music 2012 celebrates the rich musical ferment of Paris during those heady decades and explores how that world interacted with, influenced, and was influenced by musical traditions form the United States and around the world. We’ll see how—from Mistinguett to Josephine Baker, from Maurice Chevalier to Cole Porter, from Sidney Bechet to Django Reinhardt, from Alexandre Stellio to Darius Milhaud—French chanson, American popular song and dance, jazz, gypsy folk, the sounds of Martinique and Brazil, and even art music crashed together marvelously and with wonderful results. Please join us!