It is a great honor and a personal pleasure to participate in this Symposium in honor of Milton Babbitt. Babbitt's work, his "thinking in and thinking about music," have so profoundly shaped my own work and the field in which I work, the field of music theory, that it is hard imagine what either would have been without him. I have a deep and grateful sense of his influence on me.
Babbitt's more general influence, his role in shaping our larger musical culture, is the topic of this article. I want to focus in particular on the 1950s and 1960s in this country. It is frequently asserted that this was period in which Babbitt and his serial approach dominated the American musical scene. Indeed, the notion of a serial "tyranny" has taken firm hold in journalistic and musicological accounts of the period.