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date: 26 February 2020

Works Progress Administration, Federal Music Project of the [WPA]locked

  • Metro Voloshin



The US government's most ambitious programme to aid musicians left destitute by the Depression. Instituted in May 1935 as part of the Four Arts Project of the WPA, the Federal Music Project built on the musical activities of the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Civil Works Administration. Under the able leadership of its first national director, Nikolai Sokoloff (1935–9), the project focussed on the employment of musicians as performers in orchestras, concert and dance bands, chamber music and choral ensembles, and opera companies. Statistics for the period January 1936 to April 1940 show 250,000 performances reaching an audience of 159 million. At its peak in 1936, the project employed over 15,000 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Other activities sponsored by the project included the Composers' Forum Laboratories, extensive music education and recreation programmes, music festivals, radio broadcasts, the collecting and recording of American folk music, experimental music therapy programmes and various music copying and research projects....

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