Acculturated music in the Italian and Greek communities of Ambridge, Pennsylvania

Julie Ann Throckmorton, West Virginia University


Ambridge, Pennsylvania, is a multicultural town whose inhabitants have experienced varying levels of acculturation and assimilation. Much of its primarily southern and eastern European immigrant populations came to Ambridge to work for the American Bridge Company, Ambridge Division, one of the largest steel pre-fabrication plants in the world until its closing in 1983. While some of the immigrant communities adopted American customs and music, others resisted. Specifically, the Italian and Greek communities have accepted or withstood acculturation in vastly different ways. The Italian-American church in Ambridge and the town's Italian wind bands promoted the idea that assimilation into American culture was extremely important. Often, those who performed in traditional ensembles used their musical talents to perform in jazz and rock bands also. The Greeks, though, have resisted assimilation much more, especially in relation to traditional music and dance. Much of this attitude comes from their Greek Orthodox Church, which seldom permits its customs to be altered in any way. The primary focus of this thesis is World War II to the present.