Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Sylvia Kahan

Committee Members

Jeffrey Taylor

Norman Carey

Ian Finkel

Subject Categories

Music Performance


Red Norvo is cited as the xylophonist who took the instrument from the vaudeville stage to jazz. However, many xylophonists preceding Norvo were avid improvisers. There is an untapped history of xylophone improvisation on record and in pedagogical materials from a generation before Norvo’s appearance on the scene. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine evidence and the development of improvisation and improvisation-oriented music by xylophonists in New York City, the epicenter of recording and radio from the period of 1916-1942. This study includes xylophonists George Hamilton Green, Joseph Green, Harry Breuer, Sammy Herman, and Billy Gladstone, as well as Norvo’s own xylophone performance during the first two decades of his career.



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