Article

Nationalism in Western Art Music

Jonathan Gentry

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0056
Nationalism in Western Art Music

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During the 18th century, music developed the capacity to articulate nationalism. While local and even national musical styles have been around much longer, national traditions should be distinguished from nationalism. Though modern theories of nationalism differ widely, most are unanimous that nationalism is a dynamic process of cultural identification with a nation and national qualities. The peculiarities of regional musical styles can and have been incorporated in discursive efforts to create and define the nation but are not necessarily in themselves nationalized. Nationalism and music intersect whenever music is employed in the building of nations, both political and cultural. In the late 18th century peasant or “folk” music became the first nationalized genre, thought by folklorists to represent the authentic voice of a people group, defined as a nation. In turn, the historiography of nationalism in Western art music has largely revolved around folk idioms and their incorporation into high art, concert genres. However, in recent decades, new concepts of nationalism and the social function of music have greatly expanded the perceived spheres of nationalism in music. All genres, compositional techniques, and composers, regardless of nationalist intent, can participate in the formulation and negotiation of national unity and identity. In addition, the realms of popular music and amateur music making, as well as musical journalism and scholarship, are now considered important facets of nationalism in music. Given the importance of both amateur and folk music in nationalizing Western art music, this article necessarily includes selective works of ethnomusicology that illuminate the complicated, and often nationally inflected, relationship between high and low music.

Article.  10593 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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