Howard Pollack is the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston. He will be speaking next Wednesday, October 30th at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York about as part of the college's Jacob Perlow Series. Pollack's subject is “American Musical Theater and the Legacy of Jewish Emigration: From Show Boat to Fiddler on the Roof.”
Jewish American composers, many of them children of Russian-Jewish immigrants, in collaboration with Jewish lyricists and librettists, played an extraordinary role in the creation of the classic Broadway and Hollywood musicals of the twentieth century, as well as American opera of the same period - composers that include Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Richard Rodgers, Marc Blitzstein, and Harold Arlen.
Pollack will focus on how the legacy of Jewish immigration impinged itself dramatically on American musicals and operas by looking at the ways in which themes of migration, departure, arrival, assimilation, and utopia inform this repertoire.
Howard Pollack is a pianist and music historian, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and his master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University.
A specialist in American music, Pollack’s seven books—Walter Piston (1982); Harvard Composers: Walter Piston and his Students, from Elliott Carter to Frederic Rzewski (1992); John Alden Carpenter: A Chicago Composer (1995); Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man (1999); George Gershwin: His Life and Work (2006); Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World (2012); and The Ballad of John Latouche: An American Lyricist’s Life and Work (2017)—have established him as one of the leading musicologists and musical biographers in the country. He has made additional contributions through numerous articles and reviews, as well as two edited books: German Literature and Music: An Aesthetic Fusion (1890-1989) (1992), and George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and the American Century (2004).
His awards include the Irving Lowens Award from the Society for American Music and a Deems Taylor Award for Aaron Copland; another Deems Taylor Award as well as an Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research for George Gershwin; the Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography for Marc Blitzstein; and the Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography for The Ballad of John Latouche.