Music of Miriam Gideon during the McCarthy era, including a complete catalogue of her works
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This thesis considers the musical response of the American composer, Miriam Gideon to political events during the McCarthy era. It examines the interrelationships between politics, society and culture and considers how these are reflected in two works, Epitaphs from Robert Burns (1952) and Altered Steps to Altered States (1953) that Gideon composed during this period. Specifically, this thesis focuses on Gideon’s transition from teaching and composing music within an academic setting to preparing for life in a musical world, without support from mainstream academic institutions. Following the Introduction, Chapter 2 documents the rise of anti-communist practices on campus at Brooklyn College and City College, New York City where Miriam Gideon held music teaching posts. It reconstructs the personal events that led to the loss of both of these appointments and examines how and why this occurred. It is argued that Gideon entered a period of ‘inner exile,’ and this concept and its consequences for Gideon are explored in Chapter 3. An examination of her private diaries demonstrates that the effects of the McCarthy era were not only physical, but also psychological and social. Chapters 4-6 consider Gideon’s music through the perspective of inner exile and aim to show that the music that she wrote was a reflection of her experiences. Gideon’s return to academia in 1955 and her rehabilitation back into the academy are discussed in Chapter 7. A complete list of Gideon’s compositional output is included and is organised chronologically, alphabetically and by genre. This thesis examines new documents not previously available to scholars, and includes interviews conducted by the author with Gideon’s former students and colleagues.