A harmonica against a yellow background

How Harmonicas Came to America

Harmonicas were invented in Europe in the 1820s as an aid for tuning pianos, but they didn't really take off until they crossed the Atlantic.
Miles Davis

Why Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” Is So Beloved

A music scholar suggests that Miles Davis combined the blues with the musical avant garde in a manner reflecting the integrationist spirit of the era.
A pair of pink high heels

The Inherent Drama of High Heels

How can a shoe communicate many different messages at once?
Janet Collins

The History of African-American Casting in Ballet

Ballet has been slow to accept African-American dancers in major companies, and those who make it tend to be offered limited roles.
Two teenagers dancing the jitterbug, 1942

Germany’s Real-Life “Swing Kids” 

Rebellious teenagers thumbed their noses at Hitler with jazz music, wild dancing, and the greeting “Swing Heil.” But how serious was their resistance?
King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra, Houston Texas, 1921

When Jazz Was a Public Health Crisis

In the 1920s, jazz music was thought to cause physical illness or even disability.
Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of Resistance

The dark, absurdist humor of Samuel Beckett's work was directly informed by his time in the French Resistance during World War II.
Jenny Lind the Swedish Nightingale. Poster from the collection of the University of Sheffield.

Superfans in the Nineteenth Century

Americans have long obsessed over their favorite musicians.
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein, Teacher

Leonard Bernstein was a famous composer, conductor, and pianist. But by some accounts, his favorite accomplishment was teaching children about music.
Oklahoma play

Oklahoma! Changed Musical Theater Forever. Or Did It?

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical was revolutionary in the way it “integrated” music, dance, and dialogue. Or was that language just a marketing ploy?