Katherine K. PrestonJun 24, 2021
George Frederick Bristow
University of Illinois Press 2020
George Frederick Bristow, born in 1825, was a significant musical figure in the United States from the 1850s until his death in 1898. Now, almost one hundred years after his birth, Katherine Preston has just written his first biography--George Frederick Bristow (University of Illinois Press, 2020)-- as part of the American Composers Series.
Bristow led a professional life that today’s classical musicians would surely recognize. He patched together a living from performing, composing, conducting, teaching, church jobs, and even some business ventures and celebrity endorsements. He composed in every major genre of the period and wrote "Rip Van Winkle," the first grand opera by an American composer. Preston situates his life within the booming musical economy in New York and his music within the critical and artistic currents of the nineteenth century, while illuminating the little-known creative and performance culture that Bristow helped define and create.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.