Revisiting Fletcher Henderson’s “Copenhagen”

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In its recording by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra in 1924, “Copenhagen” has been judged an exemplar of big-band jazz appearing more than a decade before the Swing Era began; and its artistic success—celebrated as a break from commercial pressures—has been credited to Don Redman, Henderson’s chief arranger. This article, however, argues that Henderson’s “Copenhagen” was not the brainchild of a single musician but the product of a collaboration; further, its existence owes much to the workings of the popular music industry, not to Redman’s transcendence of commercial forces. Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including a previously neglected published arrangement of the piece, the article proposes an alternative role for “Copenhagen” in historical narratives of jazz.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-66
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the American Musicological Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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