Douglas A. Kowalewski '18, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2017


First Year Seminar


World War II was a watershed event in twentieth century American history. All aspects of life, including music, both found roles to play in the war effort and were forever altered by the conflict. Past work on the subject of American music in World War II tends to focus heavily on the nature and impact of popular music during this time period. While this paper will review and build upon this scholarship, art music during the war will also be considered. Using two distinctly different, yet complementary, autobiographies – those of army band musician Frank Mathias and composer Gunther Schuller – the functions and impacts of both popular and art music on the American war effort will be analyzed and compared. Their stories will then be contextualized within the larger narrative of twentieth century American music, showcasing how World War II – through the increased influence of jazz – shaped the evolution of both popular and art music in the United States during the early 1940s.


Written for HIST 412: The U.S. and World War II.