Category talk:U.S. American composers

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American versus U.S.

In my opinion, the contents of this page would be better moved to the newer Category:U.S. composers. There are two reasons for this: first, at least seven nationalities given specific categories (Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina) are also "American", so the category "American" referring to composers from the U.S. is arrogant and ambiguous. Second, there are not categories for African, Asian, or European composers.

Noel Stoutenburg 1809 GMT 2 February, 2007

Composers who appear on the page Category:American composers by virtue of their composer pages having been tagged with that category. In order to "move the contents" of this page to Category:U.S. composers, it is necessary to change all these category tags. While this could be done by hand (a daunting task), it could be done with an SQL query by the Admin. -- ChuckGiffen 08:08, 3 February 2007 (PST)
Returning to this topic, now we have the technical means to make such change in a snap. As an "American" citizen (living in the American continent) I also agree that the current title gives way to some ambiguity. Does anyone oppose to the proposed change? —Carlos Email.gif 22:24, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Now I noticed that there is already a similar category, New Zealand composers. To keep the standard it would be more appropriate to create a new category named Category:United States composers. —Carlos Email.gif 03:10, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Reply by: Chucktalk Giffen 16:34, 21 April 2009 (UTC)


The common demonymn for citizens/nationals of the United States of America seems to be American. I note from the Wikipedia artice on demonyms that the proper demonym for New Zealand is New Zealander, so perhaps New Zealand composers should be changed to Category:New Zealander composers? For those wishing to reassign American (as currently construed) to the United States, I would suggest something like Category:U.S. American composers or maybe Category:American (US) composers (the former being preferred by me).

Chuck, I liked the suggestions you brought up (New Zealander and U.S. American), let's wait a few days to see if someone else has a different opinion and then I'll implement the changes. —Carlos Email.gif 23:28, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I also like U.S. American and New Zealander. --Vaarky 06:41, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I think it's important to keep "American" somewhere in the category title for the reason Chuck gives. --Bobnotts talk 10:20, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm glad it was your idea, Noel; now I know I can look forward to a good discussion. I have four areas of concern related to the proposed change of "American" to "US", some trifling and some more serious. To begin with the former:

Purely in the matter of grammatical elegance, "American" is an adjective while "US" is not (unless interpreted as the genetive United States'). (Perhaps a new word is called for - Ussian?) But then it's up to you folks over there what you call yourselves.

Speaking from this side of the Atlantic, and I imagine for most of the rest of the world, there is no ambiguity at all in the use of "American" to mean pertaining to the USA. When, for example, an American wins gold at the Olympics, we're not all sitting around wondering whether it was a Paraguayan or a Guatemalan, or whether there's going to be an outbreak of national rejoicing on the streets of Caracas. But again, as a native of a country where we tie ourselves up every day in muddles over British/English/the UK/GB, I wouldn't want to argue with anyone else's attempts to define their nationality more satisfactorily.

Now the more serious stuff: I'm not much of an historian, but I imagine that the USA came into official existence sometime after the War of Independence. So where does this leave those early American composers who did most or all of their work before this time, and who were inhabitants of what I assume were known as the American colonies - composers such as J.C. Beissel (1690-1768) and Francis Hopkinson (1737-91)? (Neither currently represented on CPDL - come on, you guys, time to start digging into your musical history.) To try to claim them for the US would surely be a bit like the authorities in the USSR claiming Glinka and Tchaikovsky as Soviet composers.

And finally, the bit I consider quite misguided - your proposal to include anyone who has ever worked in the US in the category. As I pointed out in the forum, this would not only include Dvořák, Bartók, Rachmaninoff and Britten, but would lead to almost every 20th-century composer taking on multiple nationalities. (Although I quite like the idea of claiming Debussy (who wrote La Mer in Eastbourne) and Hindemith (whose Trauermusik was composed, in six hours, in a BBC studio in London) as British.) I could just about understand the inclusion of those who became US citizens, such as Schoenberg or Varèse, but not of those who simply visited the country. And when is a composer deemed to have "worked" in a particular country? Elgar never actually lived in Wales, but attributed to walking trips in the Welsh hills the inspiration for the Introduction and Allegro - so was he "working" when he was being inspired and, presumably, making mental notes of themes? I'm not sure this one stands up to examination.

--DaveF 15:58, 3 February 2007 (PST)