George Antheil, the self-described “bad boy of music,” made a splash wherever he went. Before his better- known contemporaries George Gershwin and Darius Milhaud followed suit, Antheil incorporated the sounds and styles of jazz into classical music as early as 1922 with his first symphony “Zingaresca.” That year, Antheil announced that jazz was “one of the greatest artistic landmarks of modern art.”
In 1938, conductor Arthur Fiedler asked Walter Piston to collaborate on a ballet for the Boston Symphony, with choreographer Hans Wiener (better known as Jan Veen, the name Wiener took in 1942 to protest Hitler’s annexation of his home country, Austria). Piston, eager to work with both men, told Wiener afterwards, “Your approach to the Modern Dance gives such stimulating possibilities that it has been a great pleasure to collaborate with you in writing ‘The Incredible Flutist.’”
In 1922, composition teacher Nadia Boulanger introduced conductor Serge Koussevitzky to one of her young American students. From that moment, Koussevitzky and Aaron Copland forged a reciprocal collaboration that lasted until Koussevitzky’s death in 1951. Koussevitzky championed Copland’s music and taught him the nuances of conducting; in turn, Copland encouraged Koussevitzky to program American composers.