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Nietzsche's OrphansMusic, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire$
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Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208894

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208894.001.0001

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Musical Metaphysics in War and Revolution

Musical Metaphysics in War and Revolution

(p.165) 5 Musical Metaphysics in War and Revolution
Nietzsche's Orphans

Rebecca Mitchell

Yale University Press

This chapter explores how questions of national identity and patriotism took center stage with the outbreak of war in 1914. For Nietzsche’s orphans, the cultural heritage upon which musical metaphysics was based became particularly problematic, leading to attempts to redefine contemporary German militarism as “Prussian” in contrast to the “German” values embodied in past cultural achievements. Russia’s salvific task in this “Holy War” (it was argued) was to save all humanity from the evils of “Prussianism”. The impact of growing exclusive nationalism is assessed in relation to all three composers, who failed to reunify society: Scriabin through his death in 1915; Rachmaninoff through his pessimistic outlook on events; and Medtner through his now unacceptable “German” identity.

Keywords:   Great War, musical metaphysics, Holy War, Prussia, nationalism, Russian identity, German identity

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