The Dark Side of the Moon

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
The Dark Side of the Moon

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This chapter presents an essay on the book Music in Fascist Italy by Harvey Sachs, reviewing the history of music in fascist Italy presented in the book with emphasis on Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini. It criticizes Sachs for prejudging the phenomenon of music under fascism in the light of Toscanini's anti-fascism. Data presented in the book by Sachs shows how fashionable modernism was in fascist Italy, and how attractive the policies of the fascist state were to modernists. Furthermore, the essay criticizes Toscanini for having double standards related to fascism and democracy, as he tyrannized the musicians under him, lived a life of seigneur, and exacted astronomical payments. The double standards that mar this book show how little we have come to terms with the phenomenon of fascism with respect to the arts. The history of music in fascist Italy was the least interesting and important phase of the relationship between twentieth century music and fascism.

Keywords: Harvey Sachs; fascism; music history; Arturo Toscanini; Music in Fascist Italy; Italy

Chapter.  7436 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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