The first major treatment of the American art song in more than 40 years. In Volume I: America Comes of Age, Friedberg examines the transition from the European-influenced songs of MacDowell, Loeffler, and Griffes, to the consciously "American" style of Ives, Copland, Harris, and other 20th-century composers.
Volume II: Voices of Maturity treats composers born just before or after 1900 and their response to the flood of poetry by American writers in the early 20th century. Chapters are devoted to Mary Howe and Vergil Thomson, John Duke, Ross Lee Finney, Charles Naginski, Sergius Kagen, and Paul Nordoff. Bibliography; index of songs cited; index of songs by composer; general index.
Volume III: The Century Advances begins where its predecessor ended, with composers born in the second decade of this century, and discusses songs written roughly between 1940 and 1980. Among the 16 composers treated: Samuel Barber, Paul Bowles, David Diamond, Vincent Persichetti, Jean Eichelberger Ivey, Ned Rorem, and Richard Hundley. Among the 26 poets: James Agee, Tennessee Williams, Herman Melville, Wallace Stevens, Stephen Crane, Peter Viereck, Theodore Roethke, and James Purdy.