German Nationalism Analysis

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While Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) asserted that nationalism meant “nothing more than an idealistic rationalization for militarism and aggression,”1 it did not mean that he placed little to no thought on the vast latent effects nationalism throughout Europe had on the music of that era and vice versa. Rather, this sentiment was a byproduct of the paradigm shift in artistic, literary and intellectual thought during the Romantic period – in reaction “against aristocratic social and political norms” established throughout the previous eras. The Romantic period lasted from 1850-1920. It was a period of great change in the minds of the people; a cultural rebellion against authority. Art and music flourished with more expressionistic focus, great…show more content…
Germany was formed in 1871, when Wilhelm of Prussia was proclaimed as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire. Forming a country is never easy and the ramifications of the creation of Germany in an era where people could barely read or write were dire. The state was faced with problems of unity and there were many social and cultural differences in the people who made up Germany. The governments needed a way to bind the people and formulate a sense of unity between the different ethnic groups. Poetry, legends and folk tales which made up racial identity often influenced music, which then became the ideal method for the fledging country to foster a sense of unity amongst its people as there were no barriers such as literacy or money to restrict the access of music to the masses. It was a resource that was easily available to all. Thus, music was used to control the people and influence their thinking. We can even go as far as to say that music is the people, and this developed into the ideas of patriotism, nationalism, revolution and armed struggle for independence which became popular themes for the arts of this…show more content…
Schubert created a new epoch with the Lied... All other songwriters have followed in his footsteps.” Dvorak (1894) Where the Lieder inclined towards “strophic, syllabic treatment of text, evoking the folksong qualities burgeoned by the stirrings of Romantic nationalism,”4 Schubert “explored and expanded the potentialities of the genre as no composer before him” with his Lieder which amounted more than six hundred. Schubert's Die schone Mullerin, based on poems by Wilhelm Muller (published in 1820), was one of the earliest extended song cycles to be performed and is highly regarded even to this day. Having newly created an intense, intimate relationship between (German) words and music, coupled with his innovative uses of harmony, “eloquent pictorial keyboard figurations”5 and prominent dramatic matter, Schubert's eminence as a composer was hence tied very closely to his German identity. In his Lieder, he posited the subjectivity of expressionism, which was often “alienated, within a specific landscape”6 frequently “within the piano's figuration.”7 This integration of people with a landscape went on to become the core strategy of nationalistic art which was made even more expansive with Weber's influential opera, Der Freischütz
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