A lot of folks talk out of their asses when it comes to life. I don’t. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, I keep my trap shut. However, if I do, I share my two cents.
In this case, I know Romanticism very well and want to not only talk about how Romanticism and Nationalism go hand and hand, I also want to talk about how the word Nationalism shouldn’t be such a bad word.
You can take any belief and make it bad. Hell, look at religion for instance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with believing in a God or Goddess, but certain organized religions have become monstrosities.
Whenever I talk about American Nationalism, there’s always some asshole who immediately goes straight to Godwin’s law.
Let’s talk about Romanticism and Nationalism
Let’s just go straight to art and history. We all know what Eugène Delacroix’s painting means to the French people. I used Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” 1830 as my featured image for this article.
Delacroix was a Romantic and this is a perfect example of French Romantic Nationalism. If you know anything about France, you know that this is Marianne carrying the flag. Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and Laetitia Casta have all been Marianne. The day Marianne no longer becomes revered is the day France stops becoming France.
I’ve seen this Goya painting in real life in the Prado in Madrid. It’s even more spectacular and even more powerful in real life. No internet browser is going to give this painting justice.
Goya captured the horrors of Napoleon’s occupation of Spain. Goya was a Spanish Romantic Nationalist, and this painting alone helped to fire up a fierce hatred of Napoleon’s troops in Spain.
Romanticism and Nationalism in music
United States of America
Now, my favorite part, since I’m a music guy first. Let’s talk about Romantic Nationalism in music, shall we?
Let’s start off with the United States of America since it’s my favorite country. I have an intense love for this country and always will. That doesn’t mean I always support who’s in charge of our government. (If you can’t tell the difference between the nation and the government, you got problems).
When I die, I want to be known as the greatest American Nationalist composer. Right now, John Philip Sousa is.
If you’re American, you know his works. Semper Fidelis, The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Liberty Bell, The Thunderer, etc. Even if you’re not familiar with the names, you’ll recognize the pieces when you hear them. They’re such an integral part of American culture.
America isn’t the nation with patriotic composers though. As I said, Romanticism and Nationalism go hand and hand. Let’s go to my very favorite composer of all – Peter Tchaikovsky. Although not an official member of The Five, Tchaikovksy’s 1812 Overture surpassed all of them in patriotism.
The Five wanted to create a distinctly Russian sound and took pride in being Russian. But when Russia called on a man to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon, they called on my man Peter Tchaikovsky. Now to be clear, I happen to love Borodin, Risky-Korsakov, and Mussorgsky. I’m not dissing them in any way. However, Tchaikovsky was the greatest of all.
And let’s not forget the Heir of Beethoven. Who was the Heir of Beethoven? Who would inherit the German composer throne? Was it Wagner or Brahms? Both had unique sounds which sounded German. Especially Wagner.
Chopin was such a huge part of Polish Nationalism. I have heard a Polish guy tell me that Chopin to this day remains the Hero of Poland. For financial reasons, Chopin had to live in Paris, but remained fiercely Polish to his dying day.
The list can go on and on, but I wanted to give you an idea of how Romanticism and Nationalism intertwine. Nationalism was just one of the many tenets of Romanticism. That said, it was one of the stronger tenets. If you were a Romantic, you were a Nationalist. You both revered and contributed to your culture.