Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2011


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Music Performance


Mary Pappert School of Music

Committee Chair

Carole Riley

Committee Member

Guenko Guechev

Committee Member

Jessica Wiskus


World War II music, 1940s, Vocal jazz


Although American history has lauded the accomplishments of many great generations, those who experienced World War II are referred to as the greatest generation. Having experienced different aspects of war, loss, hope, and unity, people of that time earned that name through all that they did for their country. For this great generation, the American flag represents not only the United States of America, but also the freedom they defended for themselves, their children, and their future generations. The topic of war was prominent for all U.S. citizens at that time and one thing that people turned to for hope, morale, and encouragement was music. It is amazing that the people of that generation overcame so many obstacles and experienced some of the most devastating events in American history with such strength and courage. Having to say goodbye to a loved one in order for them to go off and fight in combat was one of the many obstacles people experienced. Moreover, the men who fought for the country knew that they were fighting for something bigger than themselves because they didn't want Hitler to take over the world. Just as the greatest generation related their personal experiences to a greater ennobling cause, the music of that generation elevated the stories and emotions of personal circumstances to a privileged understanding of art and beauty. This paper explores the way that music helped people during World War II connect their personal experiences to the greater nobility of hope, courage, and confidence that art inspires. We focus on stories and opinions from a woman who lived during that time, a navy veteran of World War II, and a man who received his doctorate in music who fought in General Patton's third army. While all three people offer distinctly different perspectives on their experiences during the war, all agreed that music played a significant role in shaping the perception of the war and unifying the nation.