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(#17) Music and Nationalism

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Lori Roy

on 14 April 2015

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Transcript of (#17) Music and Nationalism

Music and Nationalism
Other Nationalists...
Really, we could go on about this for days.
Gustav Mahler
Mahler's early life was not happy. Born in Bohemia to an abusive father, he lost five of his siblings to diptheria and others ended their lives in suicide or mental illness.
As people became more conscious of their national heritage, they began to prize their own national music more.
Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)
Dvorak was born in a small town near Prague. His father was an innkeeper, butcher, and zither player.
He was the first of 14 children, only 8 of whom survived infancy.
Manuel de Falla's
"Nights in the Gardens of Spain
"Spanishy" part around 16:50
Pictures at an Exhibition
One legacy of Romanticism's passion for freedom played itself out all throughout the 19th century: the struggle for national independence.
During the 19th century....
France, Italy, and Germany all experienced internal revolution.
The Greeks struggled against the Turks...
The Polish rose up against Russia...
The Czechs revolted in Austria...
Norway broke free of Sweden.
This gave rise to nationalism in music.
The characteristic feature of this movement is simply the incorporation of national folk music into concert pieces, songs, and operas.
Symphonic poems and operas also featured national heroes, folk legends, or even national landmarks.
For example, the Finnish epic poem "Kalevala" (published in 1835 and inspired by Finnish folklore) became a nationalistic icon, drawn upon by the composer Jean Sibelius. Sibelius wrote a symphonic poem called "Kullervo" inspired by this poem.
Oh, okay....so this is like how Wagner's music used old Germanic and Norse mythology and was designed to glorify the Teutonic heritage?
Not precisely.
For Wagner creating German themed Opera was for artistic reasons, not political or patriotic. His operas also did not have German folk music elements. Composers in Germany, France, and Italy are not typically lumped in the nationalist movement, despite the fact that they use nationalistic elements.
This is because the nationalistic composers we will look at will be breaking from the traditional rules of harmony and form that had been established by the leaders of European music (Brahms, Wagner, etc.)
A great example of nationalistic composers....
The Mighty Handful
The mighty handful were a group of five nationalistic composers held together by their determination to make music "Russian." They are responsible for collecting and preserving many Russian folk songs, and for incorporating them into their music.
Mily Balakirev (1837-1910) -the only trained musician
Alexander Borodin (1833-1887)- a distinguished chemist
Cesar Cui (1835-1918) - an engineer
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) a navy man
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) an officer in the Russian Imperial Guard
The title of this work refers to a memorial exhibit of pictures by a friend of Mussorgsky's who had recently died, the Russian painter Viktor Hartmann, whose subjects were also nationalistic.
Mussorgsky depicts each painting and links them together with a "Promenade" theme that depicts him walking between the pictures. The Promenade is written in the style of a Russian folk song.
"Promenade" from
Pictures at an Exhibition
Music from "Promenade," written in an asymmetrical meter.
"Gnomus" and "Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle," from Pictures at an Exhibition
"Gnomus" is a drawing of a Russian folk-art nutcracker. The gnomes jaws crack the nut when his legs are pulled together. This nutcracker-gnome is most likely a grotesque figure, so the music is suitably macabre and lurching.
"Samuel Goldenberg and Schumuyle," is thought to be based on two Jewish men, one rich and one poor.
"Great Gate of Kiev"
The last and longest number of "Pictures," it is also the most climactic one. It is based on an architectural design by Hartmann that was never executed. The piece depicts chanting Russian priests and clanging bells and combines the Promenade theme at the end.
What does Russian folk music
sound like?
Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) produced Antonin Dvorak. Dvorak also wrote nationalistic music for a distant land: America.
Dvorak Slavonic Dance No. 8
Scandinavia produced Edvard Grieg, who wrote the well-known Peer Gynt Suite based on the drama by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Spain produced Manuel de Falla, best known for his "Nights in the Gardens of Spain," and "Three Cornered Hat."
Dvorak "Song to the Moon"
from Rusalka
Dvorak Symphony No. 9
Mvt IV.
Mvt 1 (American Theme at 4:42)
Mvt II.- Uses American Folk-like Song "Going Home"
This symphony is so awesome Neil Armstrong took a recording of it to the moon in 1969.
After establishing a respectable career as a composer in Europe (including tours of London and Russia) he became the director of the National Conservatory of Music in NYC.
While in America, he sought to incorporate as much American feel into his music as he had done with Czech music in Europe. When a composer write music in a style of other nation than his own its called "exoticism". He drew much of his inspiration from Native American and African American music, saying
"I am convinced that the future music of this country must be found in what are called Negro melodies. These can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition. These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil.They are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them."
After studying for a time at the Vienna Conservatory, Mahler began a rising career as a conductor, although he experienced difficulties because of uncompromising standards and an authoritarian attitude. To add to that, he was Jewish, and Vienna at this time was incredibly anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, he was a respected conductor.
It was only during the summers that Mahler had time to write, and his melodies incorporate traditional klezmer music, depictions of the Alps in the summer using cowbells, and use songs previously written by Mahler. They are also incredibly large, sometimes using entire choirs along with the instruments. An early performance of his Symphony No. 8, called "Symphony of a Thousand," used 1,069 players.
Here we have the first guy we've
studied whose career is actually
"conductor." As orchestras get bigger,
and as composers began to have more specific
intentions with how they want their works to
sound, a need was created for people to
lead these orchestras.

Conductors beat time for
the instrumentalists, but also show rubato,
phrases, dynamics, style, and just generally
help the instrumentalists communicate.
They study for years to perfect the style and clarity of
their movements, and must know large musical works very
well- perhaps as well as the composer himself.
A mildly interesting video...
Mahler's music serves to bridge the gap between Romanticism and modernism. His music experienced a gap in performance during the Nazi regime, when it was banned. After 1945, however, experienced an enormous resurgence in popularity.
The two words to summarize Mahler's writing are "exaggeration and distortion". His self-conscious exaggeration can be seen in the size of the orchestras and having musicians stand and the distortion can be seen in manipulation of familiar material. The number of Mahler's works is small, because composing was something he did in his free time, but what they lack in number, they make up for in size and scale.
Zwei blaue augen (Two Blue Eyes) from
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
(Songs of a Wayfarer)

Mvt III from Symphony 1
(which uses "Two Blue Eyes" in
a klezmer style, as well as
"Frere Jacques" in a minor mode
Two Blue Eyes, Uri Caine version
And for just a little more Mahler.... Symphony No. 5,
played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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