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date: 15 November 2019


  • Richard Taruskin


The doctrine or theory according to which the primary determinant of human character and destiny, and the primary object of social and political allegiance, is the particular nation to which an individual belongs. Nationalism is recognized by historians and sociologists as a major factor in European cultural ideology by the end of the 18th century, and it has been arguably the dominant factor in geopolitics since the end of the 19th. Its multifarious impact on the arts, and on music in particular, has directly paralleled its growth and spread.

Nationalism should not be equated with the possession or display of distinguishing national characteristics – or not, at any rate, until certain questions are asked and at least provisionally answered. The most important ones are, first, who is doing the distinguishing? and second, to what end? Just as there were nations before there was nationalism, music has always exhibited local or national traits (often more apparent to outsiders than to those exhibiting them). Nor is musical nationalism invariably a matter of exhibiting or valuing stylistic peculiarities. Nationality is a condition; nationalism is an attitude....

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