Happy Days Are Heard Again: The Campaign Song in American History & Culture | Newberry

Happy Days Are Heard Again: The Campaign Song in American History & Culture

Led by Justin Amolsch and Paul Durica. Four sessions. 6 - 7:30 pm.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Tuesdays, October 6 - October 27

6 - 7:30 pm

As a precaution to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars Program’s Fall 2020 term will continue to be held virtually. Virtual seminars meet via Zoom video conference and use email and Google Drive folders to share resources and communicate with instructors and participants. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars and these tools, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please feel free to reach out to seminars@newberry.org.

For more information about the Newberry’s response to COVID-19 please visit www.newberry.org/covid19.

Seminar Description

Whether promising “Happy Days” or inspiring “High Hopes,” songs have been setting the mood and tempo of presidential campaigns since the earliest days of the Republic. Campaign songs offer a sample of the prevailing tastes and styles of a given moment in the history of American music. Drawing on the extensive James Francis Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music at the Newberry, this seminar combines live performance with scholarship to explore the history and culture of the presidential campaign song. Each of the four sessions focuses on a different moment, style, and campaign—all with connections to Chicago—covering the period from Lincoln and the Wigwam in 1860 to Obama and Grant Park in 2008.

Four sessions. Registration – $170

After acquiring a music education degree from the DePaul University School of Music, Justin Amolsch played seasons with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Concertante di Chicago, Camerata Chicago, and numerous other groups in the Chicago area. Justin currently plays brass in a variety of local bands, including The Hemispheres, The Congregation and Expo ’76. He has been in horn sections playing behind Broken Social Scene, Poi Dog Pondering, The Walkmen, Jesse Dee, Noel Gallagher, and can be heard on albums by Califone and Iron & Wine. He has been seen and heard on stage and in pits for The Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Theater, Strawdog Theater, and at Navy Pier. Since 2012, Justin has operated Brass Inferno Productions, a company that contracts and actualizes unique musical experiences for private and corporate events.

Paul Durica is the Director of Exhibitions at the Newberry. For five years, he served as the Director of Programs and Exhibitions at Illinois Humanities, during which time he also co-curated Chicago Authored at the Chicago History Museum. Paul has taught classes on Chicago history and literature at the Newberry, Graham School, and the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD, and, with Bill Savage, edited Chicago by Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker’s Guide to the Paris of America.

Materials List


  • There are no required materials for this seminar.

First Reading:

  • There is no reading assignment for the first session of this seminar.

Registration Information

Online registration opens at 9 am (CDT) on Tuesday, September 1st.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars staff is working remotely and will be unable to process registration over the phone. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at seminars@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.