O Du Mein ÖSterreich: Patriotic Music and Multinational Identity in the Austro-Hungarian Empire

by Heilman, Jason Stephen

Abstract (Summary)

As a multinational state with a population that spoke eleven different languages, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was considered an anachronism during the age of heightened nationalism leading up to the First World War. This situation has made the search for a single Austro-Hungarian identity so difficult that many historians have declared it impossible. Yet the Dual Monarchy possessed one potentially unifying cultural aspect that has long been critically neglected: the extensive repertoire of marches and patriotic music performed by the military bands of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Army. This Militärmusik actively blended idioms representing the various nationalist musics from around the empire in an attempt to reflect and even celebrate its multinational makeup. Much in the same way that the Army took in recruits from all over the empire, its diverse Militärkapellmeister - many of whom were nationalists themselves - absorbed the local music of their garrison towns and incorporated it into their patriotic compositions. Though it flew in the face of the rampant ethnonationalism of the time, this Austro-Hungarian Militärmusik was an enormous popular success; Eduard Hanslick and Gustav Mahler were drawn to it, Joseph Roth and Stephan Zweig lionized it, and in 1914, hundreds of thousands of young men from every nation of the empire marched headlong to their ultimate deaths on the Eastern Front with the music of an Austro-Hungarian march in their ears. This dissertation explores how military instrumental music reflected a special kind of multinational Austro-Hungarian state identity between 1867 and 1914. In the first part of my dissertation, I examine the complex political backdrop of the era and discuss the role and demographic makeup of the k.u.k. Armee. I then go on to profile the military musicians themselves, describe the idiomatic instrumentation of the military ensembles, and analyze significant surviving works from this repertoire by Julius Fucik and Carl Michel Ziehrer. The results of this study show how Austro-Hungarian Militärmusik synthesized conceptions of nationalism and cosmopolitanism to create a unique musical identity that, to paraphrase Kaiser Franz Joseph, brought together the best elements of each nation for the benefit of all.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Gilliam, Bryan R

School:Duke University

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:music history european austria band hybridity mahler milit rmusik nationalism


Date of Publication:01/01/2009

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