“Brother, can you spare a dime?” To ask this question is begging for money, but to sing these words expresses the deep personal hardships of the Great Depression.
With the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression settling in, orchestras and record companies closed their doors, composers stopped getting commissions, and musicians joined the unemployment lines. Interestingly, during these hard times millions of people had a radio and they couldn’t get enough of the free entertainment. CBS, NBC, and many other stations acquired the bankrupt recording companies and started employing musicians in big bands, operas, and orchestras. This unique twelve years ended with the start of WW II and Dmitri Shostakovich composing his seventh symphony dedicated to the city of Leningrad. This week on Exploring Music we will hear composers like Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Aaron Copland express these hard times.