Naturalising Sounds: How Instrumental Music is (Made) National

International Conference, Regensburg, 22–23 January 2021
University of Regensburg, Department of Musicology

CfP deadline extended: 7 August 2020

In 1997 the symposium “French and German Music in the 20th Century” in Frankfurt am Main (“Französische und deutsche Musik im 20. Jahrhundert”) concluded that “today all national typology has lost its validity” (conference review in Die Musikforschung by Peter Jost). At the end of his article on “Nationalism” for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Richard Taruskin, citing Mark Slobin, expressed a hope for a pluralistic global culture consisting of a “fascinating counterpoint of near and far, large and small, neighborhood and national, home and away”. This now seems to be contradicted by the nationalistic tendencies that are gaining popularity worldwide. Music does not remain untouched by this and can become the subject of ideological appropriation. Against this background, nationalistic currents of bygone music history gain relevance once more, after having been considered for some time as over and done with. Here we find actual examples of the mechanisms of making music “national” in a nationalistically charged socio-political climate.

The conference’s main focus lies on instrumental music and those particular moments in modern music history when national or even nationalistic qualities have been attributed to it. These instances occur outside the sounding music itself; they are manifested verbally: in texts accompanying music performances, writings of music theory and music history and, last but not least, in the press – see for example such different cases as Robert Schumann’s articles on Nils Wilhelm Gade in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik or Carl Mennicke playing off the “Mannheimer Schule” against the Italian opera introduction (Hasse und die Brüder Graun als Symphoniker, Leipzig 1906).

For the interpretation of such cases a distinction needs to be made between terms such as “national” and “nationalistic”, as well as “political”, “popular”/”folksy” and—as Peter Benary emphasized in 1979—“scenic” (“landschaftlich”). Raising questions about “moments” of nationalising music seems to be in contradiction to the long cultivated concept of folk music being the basis of all national musical characteristics. Despite this view, folk music is essentially a local or at least a regional phenomenon. Since a national element cannot constitute itself purely on the basis of sounds, there still have to be acts of reflection and interpretation to attribute such qualities to folk music.

It is the aim of this conference to discover these instances in the wide realm of instrumental music, to examine, analyse and compare them.

Keynote speaker will be Prof. Dr. Stefan Keym (University of Leipzig). As part of the conference there will be a concert with a thematically related programme (esp. Dmitri Shostakovitch’s Seventh Symphony) by the University Symphony Orchestra on 23 January.

We welcome papers of 20 minutes’ length settled in the area of modern music history, focussing on questions such as (but not excluding others):

Is it possible to distinguish different strategies of branding music with a nationality in historical or contemporary music criticism and analysis?

Who decides about the nationality of music? What are the criteria?

How are differences of opinion handled?

How does one become a national composer? Can this status be lost again?

Are there instrumental genres that at certain times tended to be treated and interpreted in a national context? What are the reasons for this?

How are obvious inter-national overlaps of musical material handled (Scotch snap, Lombard rhythm, Hungarian word emphasis)?

How is the “internationality” of particular music established?

Abstracts (2000 characters), along with a short autobiography (700 characters), should be sent to Dr. Michael Braun (, Department of Musicology at the University of Regensburg, no later than 7 August 2020 (Deadline extended). Conference languages are German and English. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 28 August 2020.

REEM 2014 Annual Conference: Music And Empire In East-Central Europe


British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES)
Study Group for Russian and Eastern European Music (REEM)

Annual Conference 2014

Durham University, Music Department, Concert Room
Saturday 4 October 2014

Marking 2014 as the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, which catalysed the disintegration of European empires and the subsequent establishment of national states, BASEES/REEM invites paper proposals on topics dealing with any aspect of the relationship between music and empire in East-Central Europe.

Suitable topics include (but are not restricted to) the following:

– the role of music in the formation of small state nationalism in the age of Empire (such as in Finland and in Balkan and Central European states pre- and post-1918);
– music as represented in imperial institutions, e.g. Russian Musical Society, Academies of Sciences, Musikvereine in the Hapsburg (Habsburg) territories;
– the disciplines of folklore and ethnography and their roles in the creation of imperial ideologies;
– the musical representation and construction of national/imperial identities, and manifestations of orientalising/exoticising tendencies;
– the continuation of empire in the twentieth century and its musical consequences (the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact, cultural exchanges and diplomacy);
– the musical historiography of empire;
– musical education and its role in establishing and maintaining national and imperial identities;
– the effects of the decline and dissolution of empires and ’empires’ on constructed musical identities, ideologies, and official cultural policies in regard of music.

Abstracts of no more than 400 words and short biographical notes (of no more than 200 words) should be sent to by Monday 2 June 2014. Abstracts will be reviewed and results will be announced by 30 June 2014.

Convenors: Philip Bullock, Pauline Fairclough, Katerina Levidou, Ivana Medić, Danijela Špirić-Beard and Patrick Zuk

Any enquiries should be sent to