Jake Johnson deposited PERFORMING THE PATRON: BETTY FREEMAN AND THE AVANT-GARDE in the group Music and Sound on Humanities Commons 1 year, 6 months ago
Little can be said about music during the last century without encountering the men and women who supported it financially. Pierre Bourdieu’s impression that the services rendered freely for the good of society reinforce a symbolic debt between giver and recipient complicates motivations behind patronage. Indeed, applying Bourdieu’s theory to altruism in general – here, patronage in particular – highlights what could be thought of as a performance of futility: both giver and receiver understand the tenacious terms yet agree nonetheless to act out the process of reaching equilibrium. In the case of iconic music patron Betty Freeman (1921– 2009), her support of the avant-garde seems, at times, to call into question on what side of this ‘performed futility’ she existed. This article considers ways in which Freeman’s work as patron of the musical avant-garde allowed her to perform her identity as a woman and mother among a community on the fringe.