Between 1850 and 1910, the United States was a rising star in the international arena, and several European nations sought to strengthen their ties to the republic through cultural means. France capitalized on its art, Britain on its social ties and literature, and Germany promoted classical music. "Sound Diplomacy" retraces these efforts to export culture as an instrument of nongovernmental diplomacy, paying particular attention to the role of conductors. Delving into a treasure trove of archives that document cross-cultural interactions between America and Germany, Jessica Gienow-Hecht uncovers the remarkable history of the musician as a cultural symbol of German cosmopolitanism. Seen as sexually attractive and emotionally expressive, German players and conductors acted as an army of informal ambassadors for their home country, and Gienow-Hecht argues that their popularity in the United States paved the way for an emotional elective affinity that survived broken treaties and several wars and continues to the present.