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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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V. The Italian “National Awakening” and Historical-Imperial Nationalism. Art in the Context of the Fascist Myth of Romanità


In December 1925 Roman Dmowski argued: “If we [Poles] were similar to today’s Italy, if we were so well organised as the fascists and had Mussolini, who is undoubtedly the greatest man in present-day Europe – we would not need anything else…”342 Today Dmowski’s claims may seem outrageous, but from the perspective of that time, Mussolini’s achievements were viewed positively by many people in Europe. From the time of the famous march on Rome, Italy changed significantly, and though the price of political stability and economic progress was the gradual limitation of civil rights and brutal treatment of political opponents – in the international scene the dominant opinion was that expressed by Ray Moseley:

“Mussolini had instituted ambitious public works projects, set up a social security system, drained the Pontine Marshes, preserved the monuments of ancient Rome, and made the trains run on time. He was bringing order and discipline to Italy, compelling his countrymen to abandon their languorous Latin way of life and become part of modern Europe.”343

It is difficult to judge whether Dmowski (who wrote these words in 1925, the time of another political crisis in Poland) was aware that “undoubtedly the greatest man in present-day Europe” was transforming Italy, politically and institutionally, into a totalitarian state. In 1934, when the Nazis introduced a state organisation modelled on the Italian fascists, Dmowski (as we explained before) was critical of this form of government. The Polish press of the 1930s also wrote...

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