During World War II, American servicemen and women ubiquitously encountered music through films, radio, recordings, and concerts; significantly, however, they also encountered music in the published writings of the Armed Services Edition. The Armed Services Edition was an extensive undertaking in exigent publishing, issuing millions of copies of well over a thousand titles between 1943 and 1947 in a notably small and practical, lightweight format. The music texts, including works by David Ewen, Deems Taylor, Virgil Thomson, Benny Goodman, and Oscar Levant, offer not only a wide range of musical discussion, but read empathetically in the mindset of wartime servicemen and women abroad, a range of themes that take on heightened resonance in context: especially themes of musical Americanism, musical tropes of democracy, and the personal experience of war. This study examines the musical texts of the Armed Services Edition both to highlight one aspect of an extraordinary publishing venture, but more especially also to bring into focus the way in which musical discourse could interestingly become timely and resonant in wartime.
The Music Library Association is the professional association for music libraries and librarianship in the United States. Founded in 1931, it has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades. Complementing the Association’s national and international activities are ten regional chapters that carry out its programs on the local level. The MLA is the U.S. Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres.
1600 Aspen Commons, Suite 100, Middleton, WI 53562
608-836-5825 | 608-831-8200 FAX