Nationalism in Music

Nationalism Nationalism is not only a part of music history; it is also an important historical movement, and a topic that is discussed today. In this essay, I will define the term “Nationalism”, as well as studying the differences between a variety of sources to see different views on nationalism. Nationalism is the doctrine that states that a person’s character relies heavily on the particular nation to which that person belongs to.

It was a major factor in European cultural ideology during the 19th century, and it had a multifarious impact on the arts, especially music (Taruskin 2013). Nationalistic music is often characterised by pieces having elements of folksongs, folk dances, and folk rhythms, or subjects for operas and symphonic poems which reflect the national life or history (The Oxford Dictionary of Music 2013). Nationalism in music should inspire people to celebrate the “glorious history, cultural characteristics, and cherished values and virtues” of their own nations (G.

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Hebert 2012, p. 1). However, “Definitions of nationalism depend, of course, on definitions of the nation. It is not likely that consensus will ever be reached on the precise meaning, since different definitions serve different interests” (Taruskin 2013). Composers such as Jean Sibelius, Antonin Dvorak, and Vaughan Williams are examples of nationalistic composers (The Oxford Dictionary of Music 2013). As stated above, definitions of nationalism can vary to serve different interests.

The sources often use different definitions from other sources. For example, Grove Online states that the most “commonly accepted definition” (Taruskin 2013) is from the Harvard Dictionary of Music, where “the movement is characterised as ‘a reaction against the supremacy of German music’ (1969)”. While researchers may argue on the precise definition of nationalism, they also discuss the impacts of the composers and their pieces in their countries.

Academic sites such as Grove Online and Oxford have an objective view on composers, their music and nationalism; Grove goes into great detail on many composers. Other sources, such as David G. Hebert and Alexandra Kertx-Welzel’s Patriotism and Nationalism in Music Education claim that “nationalism is generally perceived as a negative phenomenon”, and can be “reduced to attainment of mere utilitarian goals, neglecting aesthetic values” (2012, p. 2). Other sources, like ‘fliegendehollander’ from listverse. om, or sites like TalkTalk (2013), simply state who they think are the top composers who embody nationalism (2010). The sources vary from simple definitions to deep analysis, those who believe it has had a negative impact and those who believe it is a cause for celebration. In conclusion, while a ‘nation’ can’t be clearly defined, ‘nationalism’ in music can be simply defined as a song that reflects national life and history (Taruskin 2013). Sources have different views on the role of nationalism, but most agree that it is an important part of music history.

References: The Oxford Dictionary of Music 2nd Edition 2013, Nationalism in Music, Oxford Music Online, accessed 20 March 2013, <http://www. oxfordmusiconline. com/subscriber/article/opr/t237/e7158> Taruskin, R 2013, Nationalism, Grove Music Online, accessed 20 March 2013, <http://www. oxfordmusiconline. com/subscriber/article/grove/music/50846> Apel, W 1969, The Harvard Dictionary of Music, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. G.

Hebert, D 2012, Patriotism and Nationalism in Music Education, e-book, accessed 20 March 2013 from RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, <http://site. ebrary. com. wwwproxy0. library. unsw. edu. au/lib/unsw/docDetail. action? docID=10590604> TalkTalk 2013, Nationalism (music), accessed 20 March 2013, <http://www. talktalk. co. uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0010971. html> Fliegendehollander 2010, Top 10 Composers Who Embody Nationalism, Listverse, accessed 20 March 2013, <http://listverse. com/2010/04/19/top-10-composers-who-embody-nationalism/>

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Nationalism in Music. (2016, Sep 13). Retrieved from