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Music, Romanticism and Politics

Hambridge, Katherine (2021) 'Music, Romanticism and Politics.', in The Cambridge Companion to Music and Romanticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 92-109. Cambridge Companions to Music.


This chapter explores a range of possible intersections between music, politics, and Romanticism in France and German lands in the first half of the nineteenth century. Beginning with a discussion of early German Romantic theories of political organisation and how they influenced Romantic conceptions of art, I subsequently unpick the complicated relationship between the French Revolution and Romanticism in music, and between the politically revolutionary and the artistically revolutionary. I show the extreme adaptability of the Romantic aesthetic when it came to its political interpretation, not only through the contrast between German and French Romanticism, but also through the surprising twists and turns in the political associations of Romanticism in France over three decades. In the second section, I look at the political mobilisation of Romantic symbols in Prussian musical life to nationalist and dynastic ends, before ending with a brief consideration of politicised anti-Romanticism amongst music critics in 1848.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:This material has been published in The Cambridge Companion to Music and Romanticism edited by Benedict Taylor. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:18 October 2021
Date of first online publication:06 August 2021
Date first made open access:06 February 2022

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