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American Music Timeline

American Music Timeline

Part III: 1900-1920

by David Johnson
1900 1904 1907 1911 1912 1916 Next: The Twenties


Symphony Hall built in Boston


"Country" music of southeastern U.S. features guitar, fiddle banjo, harmonica - direct descendant of English, Scottish, Irish ballads, folk songs

"Western" musical genre spreads through western states, features steel guitars and large bands; singing cowboys

Based on Mississippi River boat music and black, French, Spanish piano music, jazz develops in New Orleans brothels, honky-tonk bars


George M. Cohan's musical play, Little Johnny Jones, followed by Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, 1906, help create indigenous American musical theater


Florenz Ziegfeld launches Ziegfeld Follies, elaborate musical stage shows, through 1931, starring such performers as Billie Burke, Fannie Brice, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers


Popular songwriter Irving Berlin completes "Alexander's Ragtime Band," his first hit; culmination of ragtime craze


Composer, band leader, "father of the blues," William Christopher Handy publishes Memphis Blues, helps inaugurate new style based on rural black folk music


President Woodrow Wilson issues executive order making "The Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem. Congress confirms it, 1931

Charles Albert Tindley, first black gospel composer to be published, releases New Songs of Paradise, collection of 37 gospel works

Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief, only 30% of the Sahara is made up of sand.