Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2020
This essay examines how World War I brought into sharp relief the ever-evolving identity crisis German music underwent both domestically and further afield amidst the conflict. Caught between the strains of a nationalist-conservative aesthetic and the continuing development of a more pluralist modernism, both creativity and creative endeavor reflected the increasingly-militaristic bent of wartime cultural discourse as hubris steadily gave way to disavowal, resignation, and, finally, retrenchment. It assays both the rise in popularity of lighter forms of music as war-weariness set in on a German public tired of its strict diet of nationalist, militaristic propaganda and the proselytizing tours undertaken by orchestras at home and abroad as anti-German sentiment took hold. In the end, it seeks to situate music in the wider conflict of culture experienced by the national psyche, accelerated by the War and its consequences that characterized the decades that followed.