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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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IV. Between Thought and Action: Nazi Racial Doctrines and the Consequences of Their Implementation in the Context of the Reactions of Europe’s Music Circles in the 1930s


Racism as the foundation of academic doctrine and thought on music and as the ideological basis of Nazi cultural policies must certainly have had an impact on the situation in other European countries in the 1930s. The reactions and their emotional colouring were greatly varied, depending on the political-ideological profile of the given magazine, on its topical focus and – perhaps most importantly – on how complete freedom of speech was in the given country. No wonder, then, that among the countries of prewar Europe, German racist thought and practice at first had little influence in Italy, but this changed diametrically in the late 1930s, when the political situation enforced by signing an alliance with the Third Reich led to the passing of the so-called leggi razziali (racial laws), the Italian version of the famous Nuremberg Laws. They did not grow organically out of fascist ideology itself, but were rather a politically motivated ‘implant’ taken over from Italy’s powerful ally. Hence the considerable degree of indifference that the elite of the Italian fascists exhibited toward racism. Due to the deep assimilation of Italian Jews, anti-Semitism was not a social problem in that country, and Mussolini distanced himself from racism in many of his statements from the early 1930s, claiming (e.g. in an interview conducted by Emil Ludwig in 1932) that “race is more a sentiment than a reality.”235. Importantly, some of the high-ranking officials in Italy, as well as veterans of the fascist movement, were of Jewish origin, and...

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