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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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II. The Racist Foundations of the National-Socialist Thought on Music

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II.  The  Racist Foundations of the National-Socialist Thought on Music101

“The ‘nation’ is a political expedient of democracy and Liberalism. We have to get rid of this false conception and set in its place the conception of race, which has not yet been politically used up.”

This statement by Hitler, reported by Hermann Rauschning102, refers to the vision of the future global ‘revolution’ which he presented to the elites of the Nazi movement. The revolution was to result in the emergence of a new social order based on biological and racial criteria. Nazi chauvinism was thus most likely only a passing stage for Hitler, a political necessity that would lead to racial ‘internationalism’ as the socio-political foundation of the new system. Though today it is obvious for us that this vision was sheer madness, one should recall its proper historical context. The concept of race – “not yet been politically used up,” as Hitler claimed in his time, but today considered as compromised and downright dangerous – was quite common in the writings of the interwar period and in most cases free of the negative meanings that tragic history would later impose ←51 | 52→on it. Too many men of science, art and politics the consideration of the cultural and physical features that distinguish one human race from another seemed to be something obvious, and racial prejudice, personal resentments as well as stereotypes were used in public statements without the fear of their authors being compromised. Claude Levi-Strauss...

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