What does music research look like? This is the fifth post in a series that highlights music research by students in a Baylor School of Music class taught by Dr. Laurel Zeiss, a recipient of the 2022 Special Collections Teaching Fellowship. These students worked beyond traditional research and learned how to engage with primary sources in the Baylor Libraries’ Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Sheet Music. Enjoy exploring this unique collection through our new scholars’ works.
Allied Victory / Italian Dance by Prof. A. Amato
by Alysia Martinez
“Allied Victory / Italian Dance,” composed by Prof. A. Amato, was published in 1917 and written for solo piano. This sectional waltz is a tangible example of the political agenda of President Wilson and the first U.S. foreign propaganda agency to promote world peace.
Even though the Great War began in 1914, the U.S. infamously remained strictly neutral until 1917. This is due in large part to the political movement of Wilsonian Idealism, a form of liberal internationalism. During his presidency, President Wilson advocated for the spread of democracy, globalization, and the implementation of international global peace organizations. Furthermore, he believed that the U.S. would play a central role in this plan. The first U.S. foreign propaganda agency, the Committee on Public Information, helped to implement Woodrow Wilson’s version of the New Diplomacy in the U.S. as well as in other countries such as Italy. Scholars argue that American propaganda made the Wilsonian political program a major factor in Italian politics during that critical period and emphasize the significant impact that the Wilsonian phenomenon had on U.S.-Italian relations.
This front cover illustration for the piece depicts a dance scene between the American symbol, Uncle Sam, and the reigning queen of Italy at the time, Queen Elena of Montenegro. The queen is depicted wearing a dress resembling the colors of the Italian flag and additionally, her crown and illustrated features coincide with our knowledge of her physical public appearance during the time.
Also illustrated on the front cover is the display of flags belonging to the allied powers of the Great War. However, the last page of the piece contains national anthems from various countries including the U.S., Russia, Italy, and more, further promoting the idea of internationalism. The depiction of this peaceful and respectful interaction between two national figures, along with the smaller cultural symbols together carries an important hidden political message.
Additionally, the tempo listed at the start of the composition is Tempo di Valse, which can be translated to “In Waltz feeling.” As expected, the piece is in simple triple meter and takes on a sectional waltz form. While the music is very elegant in nature, there is not much technical skill required of the pianist performing the piece. This is most likely to allow for accessibility of the music to spread political ideology to the middle and lower classes.
It is important that we study and understand this example of how politics influences art, which in turn influences human behaviors and attitudes. Following the publication of this piece, President Woodrow Wilson would go on to win the Peace Prize in 1919 as the leading figure behind the League of Nations and his work to ensure world peace after the gruesome outcomes of the First World War. Musical pieces such as Allied Victory / Italian Dance are more than fun solo piano works for beginners, they are an important part of American and world history.
- Allied victory. Italian dance. 009.002 – Allied Victory. Italian Dance. | Levy Music Collection. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/009/002
- A&E Television Networks. (2009, November 5). U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I. History.com. Retrieved October 26, 2022, from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-proclaims-neutrality-in-world-war-i
- Woodrow Wilson and foreign policy. NEH. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2022, from https://edsitement.neh.gov/curricula/woodrow-wilson-and-foreign-policy
- Public Broadcasting Service. (n.d.). Master of American propaganda. PBS. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/the-great-war-master-of-american-propaganda/
- Nigro, L. J. (n.d.). The new diplomacy in Italy: American propaganda and u.s.-italian relations, 1917-1919. Google Books. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from https://books.google.com/books/about/The_New_Diplomacy_in_Italy.html?id=AWN2AAAAMAAJ&hl=en