Sacco and Vanzetti in American art and music

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Art and Music Histories


David F. Tatham


Sacco, Nicola, Vanzetti, Bartolomeo, popular music, folk song, opera, Italy, immigration

Subject Categories

American Studies | Arts and Humanities | History | Music


The trial and executions of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti produced multiple treatments of the subject in art and music in the United States between the 1920s and the 1980s. A brief historical review of Italian immigration in the early twentieth century, the backgrounds of Sacco and Vanzetti, a summary of their case, this study examines many visual and musical representations of the case, including a number of graphic works published by Italian-American and radical periodicals in the 1920s. A chapter on fine arts discusses treatments of the case by Ben Shahn, Rockwell Kent, Gutzon Borglum, and others. A chapter on Sacco and Vanzetti as a subject for music includes popular music, folk song, cultivated music and opera. Composers that treated the subject included Ruth Crawford (Seeger), Marc Blitzstein, and Woody Guthrie. The study considers the changing pertinence of the case to the arts in the course of seven decades.


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