|Chapter 1:||Nationalism and Music|
Nationalism and Music
The objective of this book is to study what people (and particularly nationalist artists) of the nineteenth century thought about music and nationalism: how they viewed the interaction of those two phenomena, and what they expected to come out of that interaction. This study is a historical analysis of ideas expressed by important historical personages who were intimately involved with the interaction of nationalism and music—namely Wagner, Smetana, and Grieg. Their ideas, needless to say, are no longer current, and the way we understand nationalism and music today has for the most part changed. In my analysis, however, I take these composers’ ideas largely at face value—the objective, again, is to know first what they thought, and only then to evaluate according to contemporary theories of nationalism the role that nationalist music actually did play in the nineteenth century.
This chapter provides the necessary first step on this historical and analytical project by outlining contemporary theories of nationalism. I begin with an overview of modern scholarly understandings of several critical elements in nationalism theory—elements that will underpin my discussion in the rest of the book.