Study Questions for Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow
1. Our current hierarchical system of cultural categories (highbrow, midbrow, lowbrow) seems fixed and immutable. What cultural work is done by a historian who maintains these categories? What error might ensue?
- What was the status of opera in Walt Whitman’s
? New York
- What does the prevalence of parodies and arrangements suggest about a popular familiarity with opera?
- How had the perception of opera changed by the end of the 19th century?
- What was the relative status of bands and orchestras in the middle of the 19th century?
- When Jenny Lind, and other eminent European soloists, toured mid-century
, whom did they appeal to? How did Adelina Patti’s experience differ? America
- How were typical mid-century orchestra programs constructed? How did sacralization affect this paradigm?
- How did Theodore Thomas manage to draw crowds for his
concerts? How did his philosophy change when he went to New York ? Chicago
- Since the founding in the 19th century of our country’s major orchestras, what has remained their abiding fiscal reality? Who now employs the Chicago Symphony’s funding model? How has that funding model changed, if at all, over the last century?
- What are some of John Sullivan Dwight’s basic beliefs concerning the sacralization of art?
- Through art’s sacralization in the course of the late 19th century, what were some of the changes wrought in the public’s perception of music? musicians? the concert experience?
- After a hundred years’ time, which of these perceptions have remained in place?