Musical nationalism

Musical nationalism refers to the use of musical ideas or motifs that are identified with a specific country, region, or ethnicity, such as folk tunes and melodies, rhythms, and harmonies inspired by them. For example, the direct use of folk music, and the use of melodies, rhythms and harmonies inspired by this type of music also includes the use of folklore as a conceptual, aesthetic and ideological basis of programmatic works or operas.

Nationalism is often related to the musical romanticism of the mid- nineteenth century until the mid- twentieth century, but there is evidence of nationalism both at the beginning and the end of the eighteenth century. The term is also frequently used to describe twentieth century music from non-dominant regions in music, especially from Latin America, North America and Eastern Europe. Historically, nineteenth-century musical nationalism has been considered a reaction against the “dominance” of German romantic music.

The countries most frequently related to musical nationalism are: Russia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Spain, United Kingdom, in Europe, and the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela, in America. The author, composer and musicologist, who bases this current in Spain is Felipe Pedrell. The first and most important Ibero-American composer to stand out in the musical circles of Europe was the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos.

As a musical movement, nationalism emerged early in the 19th century in connection with political independence movements, and was characterized by an emphasis on national musical elements such as the use of folk songs, folk dances or rhythms, or on the adoption of nationalist subjects for operas, symphonic poems, or other forms of music (Kennedy 2006). As new nations were formed in Europe, nationalism in music was a reaction against the dominance of the mainstream European classical tradition as composers started to separate themselves from the standards set by Italian, French, and especially German traditionalists (Miles n.d.)

More precise considerations of the point of origin are a matter of some dispute. One view holds that it began with the war of liberation against Napoleon, leading to a receptive atmosphere in Germany for Weber’s opera Der Freischütz (1821) and, later, Richard Wagner’s epic dramas based on Teutonic legends. At around the same time, Poland’s struggle for freedom from Czarist Russia produced a nationalist spirit in the piano works and orchestral compositions such as the Fantasy_on_Polish_Airs_(Chopin) of Frédéric Chopin, and slightly later Italy’s aspiration to independence from Austria resonated in many of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi (Machlis 1979, 125–26). Countries or regions most commonly linked to musical nationalism include Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Scandinavia, Spain, UK, Latin America and the United States.

Jan Stefani (1746–1829)
Jan Stefani composed the Singspiel Cud mniemany, czyli Krakowiacy i górali (The Supposed Miracle, or the Cracovians and the Highlanders), which premiered in 1794 and contains krakowiaks, polonaises, and mazurkas that were adopted as if they were Polish folk music by audiences at the 1816 revival with new music by Karol Kurpiński (Goldberg 2008, 231-32). The suggestive lyrics of many of the songs could scarcely have been interpreted by the Polish audiences at the verge of the outbreak of the Kościuszko Uprising as anything other than a call for revolution, national unity, and independence (Milewski 1999, 129–30). In this sense, despite his obscurity today, Stefani must be regarded as a precursor and founder of nineteenth-century musical nationalism.

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)
Frédéric Chopin was one of the first composers to incorporate nationalistic elements into his compositions. Joseph Machlis states, “Poland’s struggle for freedom from tsarist rule aroused the national poet in Poland…. Examples of musical nationalism abound in the output of the romantic era. The folk idiom is prominent in the Mazurkas of Chopin” (Machlis 1963, 149–50). His mazurkas and polonaises are particularly notable for their use of nationalistic rhythms. Moreover, “During World War II the Nazis forbade the playing of… Chopin’s Polonaises in Warsaw because of the powerful symbolism residing in these works” (Machlis 1963, 150).

Stanisław Moniuszko (1819–1872)
Stanisław Moniuszko has become associated above all with the concept of a national style in opera. Moniuszko’s opera and music as a whole is representative of 19th-century romanticism, given the extensive use by the composer of arias, recitatives and ensembles that feature strongly in his operas. The source of Moniuszko’s melodies and rhythmic patterns often lies in Polish musical folklore. One of the most visibly “Polish” aspects of his music is in the forms he uses, including dances popular among upper classes such as polonaise and mazurka, and folk tunes and dances such as kujawiak and krakowiak.

Henryk Wieniawski (1835–1880)
Henryk Wieniawski was another important composer using Polish folk melodies—he wrote two popular mazurkas for solo violin and piano accompaniment (the second one, Obertas, in G major).

Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Glinka was the first Russian composer to be recognized outside his country and is generally considered the ‘father’ of Russian music. His work exerted a great influence on the following generations of composers of his people.

The Five
The members of The Five, Mili Balákirev, César Cui, Aleksandr Borodín, Modest Musorgski and Nikolai Rimski-Kórsakov, were self-taught, without any academic training. At first they were very critical with the Conservatory of Saint Petersburg, newly created by Anton Rubinstein, but finally Rimsky-Korsakov ended up being a professor of that conservatory and an exquisite professional of orchestration. In the compositions, popular airs predominate, different scales such as the whole tone (which is a type of hexatonic), as well as themes taken from the Russian steppes. Of Rimski-Kórsakov highlights the symphonic suite Scheherazade, using the most representative mold of nationalism, the symphonic poem. Of Modest Músorgski stand out One night in the bare hill and the Paintings of an exhibition for piano, which Maurice Ravel later orchestrated in his refuge of Montfort l’amauri, in the twenties.

Czechoslovakia is a country formed in 1918 by the combination of the territories of Bohemia and Moravia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia). These territories had been under the control of the Austro – Hungarian Habsburg Empire. As a result, the imperial language, the German, and the imperial religion, Catholicism had become a way of life for the Czech and Austro-Hungarian people.

To preserve the mother tongue, a temporary theater was organized in Prague. This theater would promote the Czech language, composers, traditional music, and programs using national themes.

Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884)
Smetana pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country’s aspirations to independent statehood. He is widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. He is best known for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (“My Homeland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the his native land.

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)
After Smetana, he was the second Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. Following Smetana’s nationalist example, Dvořák frequently employed aspects, specifically rhythms, of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style creates a national idiom by blending elements of the classical symphonic tradition and extraneous popular musical traditions, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them. Dvořák also wrote nine operas, which, other than his first, have librettos in Czech and were intended to convey Czech national spirit, as were some of his choral works.

Leoš Janáček (1854–1928)
Leoš Janáček conducted research and cataloging of traditional Moravian music. His work inspired additional research. Due to his interest in traditional music, he was predisposed to the modality and pentatonic scales that frequently appear in traditional Moravian music. He did not usually write in the usual composition formats, to move freely between modes.

His most famous opera, Jenufa (1904), was written in Czech and originally translated into German. Janáček was very careful in supervising the translation to preserve the integrity of the script.

Bohuslav Martinů (1890–1959)
Martinů is compared with Prokofiev and Bartók in his innovative incorporation of Central European ethnomusicology into his music. He continued to use Bohemian and Moravian folk melodies throughout his oeuvre, usually nursery rhymes—for instance in Otvírání studánek (“The Opening of the Wells”).

Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
Edvard Grieg was an important Romantic era composer whose music helped establish a Norwegian national identity (Grimley 2006,)

Jean Sibelius (1865–1957)
Jean Sibelius had strong patriotic feelings for Finland. He composed Finlandia. Jean Sibelius had strong patriotic feelings for Finland. He chose to write programmatic music. Jean based his work on traditional Finnish music. For his contributions, the government granted him a pension.

In 1899, patriotism worked in Finland. Sibelius composed the symphonic poem Finland (1899) for a festival, and this one met with Finnish citizens, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. A portion of this poem has been arranged as a choral; and it is still an important national song of Finland, being also present in many Protestant hymns.

Hugo Alfvén (1872–1960)
Studied at the music conservatory in his hometown, Stockholm. In addition to being a violinist, conductor, and composer, he was also a painter. He is perhaps best known for his five symphonies and three Swedish Rhapsodies.

George Enescu (1881–1955)
George Enescu is considered Romania’s most important composer (Malcolm and Sandu-Dediu 2015). Amongst his best-known compositions are his two Romanian Rhapsodies and his Violin Sonata No. 3 (in Romanian Folk Style), Op. 25.

Béla Bartók (1881–1945)
Béla Bartók collaborated with fellow Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály to document Hungarian folk music, which they both incorporated in their musical pieces (Stevens 2016).

Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967)
Zoltán Kodály studied at the Academy of Music in Hungary and had an interest Hungarian folk songs and would often take prolonged trips to the Hungarian countryside to study the melodies which were then incorporated into his music compositions (Anon. 2014).

The designers: Barbieri and Pedrell
After the great tradition that the Golden Age constituted musically, the construction of a Spanish national music consists of an invention during the nineteenth century formed mainly by Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823-1894) and effectively developed by the composer and musicologist Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922) and his disciples. These last ones already make patent the existence of a school of first rank, especially by means of its five main authors:

Isaac Albéniz
Isaac Albéniz, disciple of Felipe Pedrell, like Granados, studied in many of the most important conservatories in Europe, including the National School of Music and Declamation of Spain. Many of his piano works reflect his Spanish heritage, including « Iberia » (1906-1909). In this work the piano imitates the guitar and the singers, traditional Spanish instruments.

Albéniz expresses himself first of all with the piano. One of his masterpieces is the Iberia Suite, where he elevates Spanish folklore to highly creative levels, both in rhythm and harmony, and this in turn interwoven with the language of the international avant-garde: the musical impressionism of debussynian reminiscences. In the Spanish Suite Op. 47, regionalism and neotraditionalism are also observed.

Enrique Granados
Enrique Granados composed the zarzuelas, a type of Spanish musical theater. He composed his work “Goyescas” (1911) based on “the prints” of the Spanish painter “Goya”. Also of a national style are his «Spanish Dances» and his first opera «María del Carmen». Like Albéniz, he expresses himself first and foremost on the piano with works such as Danzas Españolas and Goyescas, closely related to eighteenth-century music.

Joaquín Turina
Joaquín Turina, critic, musicologist and orchestra director, was another composer of what could be called late Spanish romanticism. Born in Seville, he finally assumed, following the criteria indicated by Felipe Pedrell, the Andalusian and neopopularist tradition. Among his most notable works are “Danzas Fantastica” and “La Procesión del Rocío”.

Manuel de Falla
Manuel de Falla was a composer of great international repercussion. Disciple of Felipe Pedrell, his works impregnate and interweave the national character (in many Andalusian occasions) with almost all European avant-garde movements: musical impressionism (Nights in the gardens of Spain), neoclassicism (Concerto for harpsichord), certain aspects characteristic of the Russian ballets (The three-cornered hat), and even a sifted expressionism and cubism, perhaps the result of Picasso’s vision, in addition to the pro-avant-garde playfulness, along with neopopularist traditionalism, the works of children and puppets (The altarpiece of Master Pedro).

Joaquín Rodrigo
Joaquín Rodrigo, the most recent member of this Spanish school, is the composer who raised the guitar to his definitive concert venue. He is universally known for his work Concierto de Aranjuez (1939).

A nationalistic renascence in the arts was produced by the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920. Álvaro Obregón’s regime, inaugurated in 1921, provided a large budget for the Secretariat of Public Education, under the direction of José Vasconcelos, who commissioned paintings for public buildings from artists such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. As part of this ambitious programme, Vasconcelos also commissioned musical compositions on nationalistic themes. One of the first such works was the Aztec-themed ballet El fuego nuevo (The New Fire) by Carlos Chávez, composed in 1921 but not performed until 1928 (Parker 1983, 3–4).

Manuel M. Ponce
Manuel M. Ponce was born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, although he lived his childhood in the city of Aguascalientes. A controversial composer, he dedicated himself to creating a musical work based on themes of Mexican folklore, combining them with the European romantic style of his time.

He composed for several instruments, especially the guitar thanks to the friendship he had with the Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. He was the first Mexican composer whose music had international projection, and his name was widely known abroad. Among his nationalist works are: Balada Mexicana, Scherzino Maya, Mexican Rhapsody and the symphonic poem Chapultepec, to name a few. He died in 1948, and his body was buried in the Rotunda of the Illustrious Men, in the Civil Pantheon of Dolores, in Mexico City.

Carlos Chávez
Carlos Chávez was born in Popotla, near Mexico City, on June 13, 1899. He was a Mexican composer, conductor, teacher and journalist. His music was influenced by the native cultures of Mexico. Of his six symphonies, the second, called Indian Symphony, which uses Yaqui percussion instruments, is perhaps the most popular of his works, worldwide. Chávez was, in addition to composer, public man, official, educator and politician. With Carlos Chávez, the nationalist musical movement of Mexico is definitively consolidated.

José Pablo Moncayo
José Pablo Moncayo was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on June 29, 1912. He studied at the National Conservatory of Music in 1929, where he was a pupil of Carlos Chávez and Candelario Huízar. In 1935 he formed the «Group of Four» with Blas Galindo, Salvador Contreras and Daniel Ayala to disseminate his works which reflect the nationalist spirit of Mexico.

The Huapango is based on three sones from the rich musical tradition of the State of Veracruz. « El Siquisirí », « El Balajú » and « El Gavilancito », and is one of the most emblematic pieces in Mexican concert music and one of the best known in the world. He died in Mexico City on June 16, 1958.

Silvestre Revueltas
Silvestre Revueltas was born in Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, Mexico, on December 31, 1899, was a prominent composer of the first half of the twentieth century of symphonic music, violinist and Mexican conductor. The music of Revueltas has aroused international musicological interest, a phenomenon that was only observed up to 50 years after his death. The different investigations are shaping a composer whose importance places him within the most original creations of twentieth century music. According to various authors, it is the only composer of genius that Mexico has had. Even Peter Garland, one of his main scholars, considers him the best composer to emerge inAmerica.

Studies show an author who does not coincide with the aesthetics of Mexican nationalism as he was for a long time pigeonholed, but is in contact with the latest avant-gardes of his time in what Yolanda Moreno Rivas considers a highly informed style that transcended the same nationalism.

He composed music for movies, camera, songs and some other works. His orchestral music includes symphonic poems; the best known is Sensemayá in 1938, based on the poem by Nicolás Guillén. His musical language is tonal but sometimes dissonant, with rhythmic vitality, and often with a distinctly Mexican flavor. He died in Mexico City on October 5, 1940 due to pneumonia at the age of 40, on the same day as the premiere of his ballet El tuencuajo paseador, composed seven years earlier. His remains are preserved in the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons, in Mexico City.

Salvador Contreras Sánchez
José Avelino Salvador Contreras Sánchez was born in Cuerámaro, Guanajuato, Mexico, on November 10, 1910; although, for unknown reasons, Contreras himself often maintained that it had been in 1912. He wrote preferably for orchestra, although he also addressed chamber music and composed for solo instruments. He was, above all, a composer of instrumental music, dominated by the idea of considering music as an autonomous art and independent of any other means of expression. His musical style revealed, from his beginnings, a strong influence of the Neo-Classism of the Vinskians and of the Revueltian sonorities, as well as features of an impressionistic nature, characteristics that were maintained in a large part of his work.

He produced a broad and solid work, intimate, profoundly national, with great expressive possibilities that range from simple songs to orchestral grandiloquence. Like his colleagues from the Group of Four, it represents the exhaustion of nationalist tendencies in Mexican music. Among his most representative works are the Sonata for violin and cello (1933), String Quartet No. 2 (1936), Music for Symphonic Orchestra (1940), Provincianas (ballet) (1950), Two Dodecophonic Pieces (1966), Seven preludes for piano (1971), Three movements for guitar (1963).

He was composing his 4th Symphony and a Tribute to Diego Rivera, for orchestra and narrator on texts by his brother Guillermo Contreras, when after a long and painful illness, he was surprised by death in Mexico City, on November 7, 1982, leaving these two works unfinished.

Salvador Contreras is still a composer whose production remains largely archived, a creator who expects, like many, the passage of time and history so that his music is properly valued.

Pedro Humberto Allende Sarón
Pedro Humberto Allende Sarón one of the most important Chilean composers and who won the first National Prize of Art mention music, in 1945. Outstanding for being the pioneer of nationalist music in Chile, incorporating peasant and Mapuche music to his work.

Antonio Estévez
Outstanding composer and orchestra conductor, Antonio Estévez began his musical training in Caracas and joined as a member of the Marcial Band of this city, as well as the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra. His masterpiece is the Cantata Criolla which was released 25 of July of 1954, the most important of the Venezuelan musical nationalism in the twentieth century piece, and earned him the National Music Prize. Other works of importance are Noon on the plain, Cromovibrafonía and Cromovibrafonía múltiple.
Carlos Gomes (1836–1896)
The most representative composer of Brazilian romanticism, Gomes used several references from the country’s folk music and traditional themes, chiefly in his opera Il Guarany (1870).

Francisco Mignone (1897–1986)
Mignone incorporated folk rhythms and instruments into his suites Fantasias Brasileiras nos.1–4 (1929–1936), his 12 Brazilian Waltzes (1968–1979), Congada (1921) and Babaloxá (1936), besides composing ballets based on major literary works from Brazilian literature.

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959)
Villa-Lobos traveled extensively throughout Brazil in his youth and recorded folksongs and tunes that he later used in his series Bachianas Brasileiras and all of his Chôros (amongst them, his Chôros No. 10, subtitled Rasga o coração after the song with words by Catulo da Paixão Cearense and music by Anacleto de Madeiros, which Villa-Lobos quotes in the second half of this choral-orchestral piece, which employs native percussion).

United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, nationalist music was more prominent in Scotland, Ireland and Wales than in England. These countries have always had a strong connection to their heritage, and romantic composers incorporated elements of British traditional music in their works.

Joseph Parry (1841–1903)
Parry was born in Wales, but moved to the United States as a child. In his adulthood, he traveled between Wales and America, and performed Welsh songs and glees with Welsh texts in recitals. He composed the first Welsh opera, Blodwen, in 1878 (Rhys 1998,).

Edward Elgar (1857–1934)
Best known for the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (Moore 1984,).

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924)
Stanford wrote five Irish Rhapsodies (1901–1914). He published volumes of Irish folk song arrangements, and his third symphony is titled the Irish symphony. In addition to being heavily influenced by Irish culture and folk music, he was particularly influenced by Johannes Brahms (White n.d., 205).

Alexander Mackenzie (1847–1935)
Mackenzie wrote a Highland Ballad for violin and orchestra (1893), and the Scottish Concerto for piano and orchestra (1897). He also composed the Canadian Rhapsody.

In his life, MacKenzie witnessed both the survivals of Jacobite culture, and the Red Clydeside Era. His music is heavily influenced by Jacobite art (White and Murphy 2001, 224–25).

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)
Vaughan Williams collected, published, and arranged many folksongs from across the country, and wrote many pieces, large and small scale, based on folk melodies, such as the Fantasia on Greensleeves and the Five Variants on “Dives and Lazarus. Vaughan Williams helped define musical nationalism, writing that “The art of music above all the other arts is the expression of the soul of a nation” (Vaughan Williams 1934, 123).

United States
Aaron Copland (1900–1990)
Ironically, Copland composed “Mexican” music such as El Salón México in addition to his American nationalist works (Piston 1961, 25).

Horatio Parker (1863–1919)
Edward MacDowell (1860–1908)
MacDowell’s Woodland Sketches, op. 51 (1896) consists of ten short piano pieces bearing titles referring to the American landscape. In this way, they make a claim to MacDowell’s identity as an American composer (Crawford 1996, 542).

Charles Cadman
Charles Cadman dedicated time to the Indian reservations of Omaha and Winnebago and recorded his songs. He arranged and published some of them. Cadman presented a series of decrees with Princess Tsianina Redfeather, mezzo-soprano of Omaha, and composed an opera, Shanewis or the Robin Woman (1918), based on his life.

Arthur Farwell
Arthur Farwell worked with native American music, but also studied American, Anglo-American and African folk songs, as well as Mexican and cowboy music. He founded the Wa-Wan press to publish his “American Indian” melody (1900) and the works of other contemporary composers.

In Ukraine the term “Music nationalism” (Ukrainian: музичний націоналізм) was coined by Stanyslav Lyudkevych in 1905 (Hrabovsky 2009,). The article under this title is devoted to Mykola Lysenko who is considered to be the father of Ukrainian classical music. Ludkevych concludes that Lysenko’s nationalism was inspired by those of Glinka in Russian music, though western tradition, particularly German, is still significant in his music, especially instrumental.

V. Hrabovsky assumes that Stanyslav Lyudkevych himself could be considered as significant nationalistic composer and musicologist thanks to his numerous composition under Ukraine-devoted titles as well as numerous paper devoted to use of Ukrainian folk songs and poetry in Ukrainian classical music (Lyudkevych 1905).

Inspiration by Ukrainian folklore could be observed even earlier, particularly in compositions by Maksym Berezovsky (1745–1777) (Kornii 1998, 188), Dmytro Bortnyansky (1751–1825) (Kornii 1998, 296), and Artem Vedel (1767–1808) (Kornii 1998, 311). Semen Hulak-Artemovsky (1813–1873) is considered to be the author of the first Ukrainian opera (Zaporozhets za Dunayem, premièred in 1863). Lysenko’s traditions were continued by, among others, Kyrylo Stetsenko (1882–1922), Mykola Leontovych (1877–1921), Yakiv Stepovy (1883–1921), Alexander Koshetz (1877–1944), and later, Levko Revutsky (1889–1977).

At the same time the term “nationalism” is not used in Ukrainian musicology (see for example Yutsevych 2009, where such term is missing). Moreover, the article “Music Nationalism” by Ludkevych was prohibited in the USSR (Hrabovsky 2009,) and was not widely known until its publication in 1999 (Lyudkevych 1999).

Source from Wikipedia