Pan American Association of Composers

Love, Corina

     The Pan American Association of Composers (PAAC) was founded on the morals that the Americans (North, Central, and South Americans) will exchange music and do their best to perform it everywhere to build this sense of unity. As I read more and more about it from the Root article, I started to think of something original for this post. I decided to think about it from Slonimsky’s point of view. I took it from the point of view from a fellow composer and conductor although I am significantly younger. Before I get into my opinion and insight on why this group is important, here are some quick facts about PAAC.

  • Founders: Edgar Varese, Henry Cowell, and Carlos Chavez
  • February 1928, official establishment of PAAC with some rules.
    • Only composers from North, South, and Central America are allowed.
    • The PAAC will not limit anyone’s activity within life.
    • Emphasize on performing as much new music as possible.
    • Perform new music anywhere people will listen.
  • Although some people sectioned off to ensure music was performed always.
    • This was a problem, however, because they had their own taste in music and didn’t perform certain works until the PAAC made regulations on what to perform.
  • PAAC struggled with funds but recovered when Ives funded a trip for Slonimsky to perform concerts in Europe.
    • Super neat because the musicians for the concerts where from the country/town the concert took place in.
  • PAAC eventually dispersed when the Great Depression took place and everyone ran out of money.


Going back to the time Ives funded Slonimsky’s trip to Europe. It was because they felt that they, specifically Parisians, needed to hear what America was composing at the time. Let’s just say the reviews did not go well at first. The concerts where more or less underfunded and not well publicized so the critics didn’t really pay any attention. That is, until 1932. This is when he wrote elaborate program notes and publicized the concert to the fullest. The first showing of the concert, was seen as weird and was not taken well. The second showing was taken better and went smoothly.

As I think about this from a composer/conductor’s point of view I think about how hard it must have been to be in a different country and not accepted well. At the same time I think about that a pioneer he was to be out there not only doing new music, but working with musicians from their respective country. I think about what it must have been like to be doing something like that with complete strangers. It also makes me really appreciate technology because there would be not only a person to do promotions, but I could get my word out with a click of a button. The featured image is a ticket that is from the Berlin concert that took place soon after the Paris concert. Why is this important? Because it shows how different things are today, nearly 90 years later. That’s what this article and different research taught me. It taught me about my predecessors  and about how this group of people, even though short lived, changed the way the Americas were seen in Europe. It makes me grateful this organization existed.


Paula Morgan“Slonimsky, Nicolas.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed March 28, 2017

Root, Deane L. “The Pan American Association of Composers (1928-1934).” Anuario Interamericano De Investigacion Musical 8 (1972): 49-70. doi:10.2307/779819.

Vivian Perlis“Pan American Association of Composers.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music OnlineOxford University Press, accessed March 28, 2017

Wen-Chung, Chou. “A Varèse Chronology.” Perspectives of New Music 5, no. 1 (1966): 7-10. doi:10.2307/832384


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