Music: The U.S. Gets Musical

¶At one concert, a friendly stagehand advised the great Anton Rubinstein not to go on without blacking his face for the "show."

¶ At another, a seven-piece orchestra attempted Beethoven's Eroica.

¶At another, the orchestra played The Fireman's Quadrille, during which a fire alarm clanged, men in helmets dragged in hoses, doused real water on fake blaze. Such was unmusical America of the 19th Century, as portrayed by David Ewen in Music Comes to America (Thomas Y. Crowell; $3). Picturing a young nation's groping progress toward musical maturity, the story is by turns comic, valiant,...

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