The Pan American Association of Composers

The Pan American Association of Composers was establish the way for “new” and “experimental” types of music. It branched through and reached many composers from the United States of America, Central America, South America, and even as far as Europe(although European positive participation was rarely seen). The expected idea of the Pan American Association of Composers or PAAC was to provide exposure of composers across the Americas, that North American works would be performed in Central or South America and vice versa. This idea was to provide information and understanding to different cultures through music and allow other composers who were a part of the PAAC and from different regions to get inspired from the music of others regions. Founded by Edger Varèse in 1928 the association (although short lived) and its composers, were very successful to exposing the Americas and other parts of the world to its “new” music.

The at least the first couple of years the concerts that were put on by the association were far from popular, many of the concerts taking place in New York were underfunded and not fairly well attended. This is seen as odd because most of the music being performed were world premieres. It was the help of Nicolas Slonimsky, a Russian born composer and funding from Charles Ives, a member of the PAAC the association would have ended much sooner than it did. After his Concert in Havana, with funding from Charles Ives, Slonimsky made the first of his two trips to Europe to share some of the PAAC’s “new” music. As expected the music that Slonimsky brought to Europe was not received well.

Ives, likely more involved than most and disheartened by the reviews and remarks of Phillip Hale, calling the association “tasteless”, “Experimental’, and “Insignificant”, Ives did not give up and would not let the association fall. It was this continued funding and push for Slonimsky, by Ives, to continue this exposure for “new” music that has brought Ives to the forefront of American composers. Although the PAAC would eventually die in the mid 1930’s, its impact of exposing the music of its composers and one in particular, Charles Ives, seems to have been a small victory. Even though not much is known of many of the other composers who were a part of the PAAC, the PAAC seems to have done its job in exposing its “new” music to not only composers in the association, but its listeners and performers worldwide.20-more-composer-quotes-3-1371741427-view-1


-John Guevara

Burkholder, J. Peter. “Ives, Charles (Edward).” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition (October 2013)

Mead, Rita H. “Cowell, Ives, and “New Music”” The Musical Quarterly 66, no. 4 (1980): 538-59.

Perils, Vivian. “Pan American Association of Composers”. Grove Music Online (accessed March 27th, 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.


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