Nationalism in Music

Topics: Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Oxford University Press, Harvard University Pages: 2 (619 words) Published: May 1, 2013
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. 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...
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