Music played a central role in the self-conception of middle-class Germans between the March Revolution of 1848 and the First World War. Although German music was widely held to be 'universal' and thus apolitical, it participated - like the other arts - in the historicist project of shaping the nation's future by calling on the national heritage. Compositions based on - often heavily mythologised - historical events and heroes, such as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest or the medieval Emperor Barbarossa, invited individual as well as collective identification and brought alive a past that compared favourably with contemporary conditions. History in Mighty Sounds maps out a varied picture of these 'invented traditions' and the manifold ideas of 'Germanness' to which they gave rise, exemplified through works by familiar composers like Max Bruch or Carl Reinecke as well as their nowadays little-known contemporaries. The whole gamut of musical genres, ranging from pre- and post-Wagnerian opera to popular choruses to symphonic poems, contributes to a novel view of the many ways in which national identities were constructed, shaped and celebrated in and through music. How did artists adapt historical or literary sources to their purpose, how did they negotiate the precarious balance of aesthetic autonomy and political relevance, and how did notions of gender, landscape and religion influence artistic choices? All musical works are placed within their broader historical and biographical contexts, with frequent nods to other arts and popular culture. History in Mighty Sounds will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in nineteenth-century German music, history and nationalism. Barbara Eichner is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at Oxford Brookes University.
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Certainly makes for an impressive opening volume. (...) A very well-researched, cogently argued, as well as sympathetic, treatment of a fascinating subject, equally fruitful for the historian and the musicologist, and perhaps still more so for the scholar and reader who would be both. MUSIC AND LETTERS This work is a valuable contribution for anyone wishing to chart the trends and developments of German music during a crucial era. GERMAN HISTORY Eichners Buch bietet eine hervorragende, klar geschriebene Einführung in die Thematik und ein breites Panorama an Beispielen mit einer Vielzahl neuer Fakten, Schlussfolgerungen und Querbezüge. Besonders hervorzuheben ist die gelungene Verbindung von einfühlsamer Werkanalyse und kulturgeschichtlicher Kontextualisierung. DIE TONKUNST Eichner's thesis is ambitious. The book, after all, is designed to be as much about nationalism as it is about musicology; she even classifies it as a 'study into German national identity' (...), rather than a study of music per se. To that end, the introduction is an impressive assault on the ivory towers of German historiography. Eichner demonstrates formidable understanding of the forces at play in the pre-unification era, and her citations reflect a mastery of the relevant historiography. Once the text wades into the arcane detail of German musicology, Eichner is clearly on familiar ground. She demonstrates deep understanding of and passion for her chosen field. (...) this work is a valuable contribution for anyone wishing to chart the trends and developments of German music during a crucial era. GERMAN HISTORY
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