ABOUT THIS BOOK
Established in 1935 under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration, the Federal Music Project (FMP) was designed to employ musicians who were hard hit by the economic devastation of the Great Depression. All of This Music Belongs to the Nation is the first book-length study of the FMP and the many paradoxes and conflicts that marked its four-year existence.
As Kenneth J. Bindas points out, the FMP leadership was more conservative than that of the sister projects in art, theater, and writing. Its stated aim of "raising" the taste of musicians and citizens alike created a particular problem. Although many unemployed musicians came from the sphere of popular music, such as jazz and Tin Pan Alley, the FMP chose to emphasize "cultured" music, particularly the orchestral works of composers in the European classical tradition. Inevitably, this created tension within the project, as those musicians deemed "popular" received second-class treatment and, in the case of racial and ethnic minorities, were segregated and stereotyped. Despite these troubles, Bindas demonstrates, the FMP succeeded in bringing music to millions of listeners across the country.