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


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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III. Das Volk, die Volksgemeinschaft, der Volkskomponist: The Concept of the “Community of Blood” and the Debate Concerning National-Socialist Normative Musical Aesthetics


Was the Third Reich a totalitarian state? The question may seem absurd. And yet – as Karen Painter demonstrates – there are many historians who argue that the German nation’s enormous support for Hitlerism (at least in the initial years of the Nazi rule) and the fact that the Nazis took over power in a legal way – make the answer not as obvious as it might seem.185 On the other hand, Hannah Arendt in her classic monograph The Origins of Totalitarianism, claims that of all the European dictatorships that emerged in the first half of the 20th century, only two can be described as fully totalitarian: the Third Reich and Stalin’s USSR186. This is because only these two empires, says Arendt, aspired to global hegemony. The compulsion to struggle for worldwide domination results from “the very nature of totalitarianism.” For this very reason, Mussolini’s fascist regime – which is believed to have coined the term ‘totalitarian state’ – does not fulfil Arendt’s criteria for a totalitarian state, despite the belligerent poses and cocky declarations for which the Duce was notorious.

More frequently, however, we meet with interpretations of totalitarianism which focus first and foremost on the forms of internal rule and authority in the given country187. From this point of view, totalitarian rule is undoubtedly one that strives to control every sphere of the citizens’ lives, depriving them of their individual private freedom inasmuch as the technical instruments of control and the available coercive measures make it possible. It is...

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