‘African American Music in Italy, 1930-60’

christianoconnellOn Monday, October 28th, at 5.30pm in QU122, this year’s series of History Research Seminars at UoG will begin with a paper from our very own Dr Christian O’Connell. We hope to see you there, and as a taster here’s Christian’s abstract – it sounds it’ll be a fascinating evening!

The influence and cultural significance of African American culture in Europe is gaining an increasing amount of both popular and academic interest particularly in the fields of history, literature, art and music. Seeking to expand the examination of the transatlantic exchange, my paper examines the reception and influence of African American culture in Italy. This country is relatively unexplored in this regard, despite the numerous parallels that can be drawn with British and French experiences. For instance, as in Paris, a number of ‘hot’ jazz clubs were present in the larger Italian cities, particularly Milan where the Federazione Italiana del Jazz (FIDJ) was founded, followed by the periodical Musica e Jazz in 1945, one of the oldest dedicated publications on the subject. Numerous influences of African American culture can also be seen in Italian neo-realist cinema, such as Giuseppe De Santis’ Bitter Rice (1949), the emergence of the native sub-genre ‘Swing all’italiana,’ and the first tours and performances of blues singers, such as that of Big Bill Broonzy in 1956. While African American culture may not have had the same impact as in Britain or France, it is clear that black music and culture were influential in Italian popular culture.

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