American Music Timeline - The Twenties

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
American Music Timeline

Part IV: The Twenties

by David Johnson
1900 1920 1922 1924 1925 1927 1928 Next: 1930-1960

Circa 1920

West 28th St. in New York City becomes center of popular music industry, through 1950s, known as "Tin Pan Alley," also style of sentimental popular songs

Singers Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith popularize blues; Beale Street in Memphis becomes blues center

Early 1920s

Chicago becomes jazz capital, trumpeter Louis Armstrong, pianist Jelly Roll Morton perform


Jazz musician Duke Ellington moves to New York, forms band that ultimately becomes Duke Ellington Orchestra

Country fiddlers Henry Gilliand, Eck Robertson make records, as music companies search for "old-time music"


Juilliard School for performing arts opens in New York

George Gershwin composes Rhapsody in Blue, symphonic jazz composition; Porgy and Bess, folk opera, 1935; becomes one of most original and popular American composers


Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee, begins Saturday night radio broadcasts featuring regional music, helps fuse Southeastern and Western styles, creating country and western genre


Show Boat, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, based on Edna Ferber's novel, becomes first hugely popular musical comedy

Duke Ellington performs for radio from Cotton Club, nightclub in New York City's Harlem, wins national following; 1932 song "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" ushers in swing


N.Y. Symphony Orchestra merges with Philharmonic Society of N.Y. to form New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra

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