Nationalist artists’ obsession with creating rigid boundaries, difference, and particularity in their art coexisted with simultaneous aspirations to universality. The sixth chapter stands as the opposite side of the coin from the preceding one, and it shows that for all their inward-looking drive to create a unique national art, Wagner, Smetana, and Grieg were also looking outward, at the function of the national art on the world stage. Ultimately, besides constructing a national culture at home, these composers’ works were created to represent the nation’s values and artistic achievement abroad as well. Three themes in particular run throughout the nineteenth century’s discourse on nationalist music: prestige, dissemination, and universality. Composers were concerned that their music be disseminated internationally, to secure prestige for their nation’s art. In this way, their music would benefit not just their own nation, but would rise to the universal standards of all great art. Through this example of national art, I establish that despite the particularity and difference inherent in nationalism, nationalism can also contain within itself appeals to universal and cosmopolitan values.
Moving from the detail of the preceding six chapters, in the Conclusion, I widen my lens for a sweeping view of many more nationalist composers. Incorporating figures from Carl Maria von Weber to contemporary Latvian composer Zigmars Liepiņš, I demonstrate that the constitutive features of nationalist music that I identify in Wagner, Smetana, and Grieg are indeed present throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. With this broad historical overview, I once again tie together the three guiding themes of the book—the creative processes of nationalist music, national cultures, and nationalist composers. The incredibly consistent goals, techniques, artistic output, and achievements of nationalist composers all the way from Spain to Russia demonstrate the seminal importance of these processes as aspects of art, politics, and society in Europe in the nineteenth century, and point to the continuing relevance of these cultural and political phenomena today.