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Nationalism, Chauvinism and Racism as Reflected in European Musical Thought and in Compositions from the Interwar Period

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Andrzej Tuchowski

This book concerns the ways in which many different types of nationalism, chauvinism and racism penetrated into musical thought in the interwar period, and how the leading artistic personalities of that period reacted to these ideologies. The concept of "nationalism" is understood broadly in this book and covers the entire spectrum of its positive and negative aspects. The topics listed in the book’s title have been discussed on the example of selected four countries, significant with respect to population and territory and representing different social-political systems: Germany (mostly after 1933), Italy, Poland (after 1926) and Great Britain. This selection is also representative of the main ethnic groups in Europe: Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Latin-Romance and Slavic.

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I. The National and Universal Dimensions of Music in the Aesthetic Thought of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Karol Szymanowski

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I.  The  National and Universal Dimensions of Music in the Aesthetic Thought of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Karol Szymanowski21

State histories can hardly be more different, it might seem, than those of Poland and England in the last three hundred years. England – the dominant nation of the United Kingdom – created history’s greatest empire during those years, implemented an industrial and scientific revolution of global significance and transformed the cultural landscape in a large portion of the world, which has had lasting consequences until now. Poland, which used to be the dominant nation of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – lost (in political terms) all that an erstwhile empire could lose, becoming a symbol, a tragic victim of shameful conspiracy for some, or a loser of its own making for others. Thomas Carlyle, an influential British philosopher and historian and author of the very popular (and dear to the Victorian establishment of the empire) ideology which claimed that “the strongest are right” – characteristically opted for the latter assessment of Poland’s fall. The fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was for him a model example of a state that suffered a catastrophe due to the moral decline of its elites. Once moral disintegration had reached a certain critical point, he claimed, the state as a representation of the nation is doomed to fall, whereas the nation itself will be subordinated to another, stronger one which derives its strength from moral principles, and is therefore protected by Divine Providence. Today such a historiosophic paradigm...

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