Sessions are recorded and 90 minutes duration, accessible on the dates published. Joining instructions on acceptance of booking.
One of the richest, most fascinating periods in American culture, the Jazz Age was characterised by a spirit of protest and celebration.
Trace its highlights across music, the visual and decorative arts, architecture, fashion, and film.
“Absolutely fascinating approach, which I have never seen before”
How did the legacy of the nineteenth century, including civil war and reconstruction, inform the Jazz Age? What was prohibition and who were some of the key figures of the age? In music, listen to Scott Joplin, the development of ragtime, the birth of the blues, and learn how white artists appropriated black music.
Hear how jazz music was invented and trace the rise of early stars like Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, Buddy Bolden; the role of the gramophone; the relationship between low culture and composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky; and how New Orleans’s Red Light District Storyville, New York, and Chicago played key roles.
Thus George Gershwin defined his seminal ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Explore this 1924 work and the start of symphonic jazz and consider how artists and writers ‐ from the later works of the Ashcan painters, through Thomas Hart Benton, to precisionists like Charles Sheeler, to the alienation of Edward Hopper to Dos Passos’s ‘Manhattan transfer’ (1925) ‐ responded to the industrialisation of their cityscapes and landscapes.
The Charleston craze, a plethora of new slang, prosperity… for a while, the 1920s appeared to be one giant party. But some writers looked beyond the materialistic dreams of this new society. Consider their critiques through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ (1925), the writings of Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and others.
Some Americans, like Gerald and Sara Murphy exiled themselves in Europe. Examine the work of American literary notables like Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and Gertrude Stein and their interactions with European avant-garde artists like Picasso.
The ‘flapper’ ‐ young, fashionable, risk‐taking, sexually adventurous, and financially independent ‐ evolved partly from Howard Chandler Christy’s “Christy Girl”. She was also reflected in modernist art and fashion of the period. Explore artist Tamara Lempicka’s iconic works, Georgia O’Keeffe’s radical attitude to gender, and the writings of novelist Zelda Fitzgerald which betrayed the stresses felt by the modern woman.
The Harlem Renaissance was an incredible flowering of black culture that encompassed artists like the first great jazz innovator, Louis Armstrong, jazz poet/writer Langston Hughes, pianist/composer and big band leader Duke Ellington, writer Zora Neale Hurston, sculptor Augusta Savage, and photographer James Van Der Zee.
Despite Mary Pickford’s misgivings about adding sound to movies, the jazz singer (1927) proved a smash at the box‐office, heralding a new era in cinema. Discover the breadth of Hollywood, from cartoon shorts to stars like Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Douglas Fairbanks to poster design. See also how the acting profession was represented in fiction.
Art Deco was launched in 1925 at the Paris International Exhibition. Discover its origins in Art Nouveau, how it transformed interior design, industrial design, decorative art, jewellery, fashion, and architecture (in iconic works like The Chrysler Building), and came to epitomise luxury and modernity. See how it segued into streamline moderne during the 1930s, inspired by aerodynamic design.
Though the late 20s, early 30s are synonymous with the Wall Street crash, the period produced some fascinating culture including the photographs of Dorothea Lange, novels like sanctuary (1932) by William Faulkner, paintings by Leo Bibel et al. In music, explore the rise of the white swing bands such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman; the birth of Bebop and pioneers Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk; and the great jazz vocal stars Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.