nordic music politics

“Nordic Music“ – Resistance, Persecution, Collaboration, and Reintegration in Norway’s Music Life 1930-1960.


Music and Resistance in European Dictatorships


This is a temporary display of the Project „Music and Resistance“

A separate website is currently under construction!



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About „Music and Resistance“

„Music and Resistance in European Dictatorships“ is an interdisciplinary, international network, founded in 2018 by Michael Custodis (Münster), Friedrich Geiger (Hamburg), Arnulf Mattes (Bergen), Katarzyna Naliwajek (Warsaw), and Boris Previšić Mongelli (Lucerne) and coordinated in Münster.

The network analyzes the interferences of music and resistance in European dictatorships. A first phase focuses the Nazi-occupied countries during the years 1938 and 1945. In a second phase the exemplary fields will be widened systematically to examine regimes after 1945, including recent regimes in Belarus and Hungary. The specifics of music offer new approaches for musicology, literature and cultural studies in dialog with philosophy, historical and political studies by comparing different countries and dictatorships.

Music is understood in a wide sense:

  • to cover the full spectrum of folk songs and symphonies, popular tunes and string quartets,
  • of biographical perspectives and national traditions,
  • of performance contexts in symphony halls, churches and public concerts, in radio broadcasts and private concerts, by choirs and music societies,
  • at specific locations in concentration and prison camps, conservatories and schools as well as institutions in exile.

The first mutual point of departure is the unique potential of music to communicate opposition, due to music’s non-conceptional nature and its emotional, appellative, semantic, commuting, and representational qualities. The second point of departure is music’s general openess to any kind of functionality, which can either be affirmative or oppositional in a dictatorship. In consequence the network questions the specific constellations where music can unfold oppositional impact. Accordingly resistance is understood as concrete action derived from an oppositional attitude, where music can react to various demands – from motivation to explicit action.

On the basis of common ethical standards for science and research the network will cooperate on four different fields:

  1. „mapping musical resistance“: A database will collect information about of musical opposition (works, performances, incidents) and present them in digital media and enhanced maps.
  2. „comparative analyzing“: Constants and significant differences of oppositional musical practices will be examined for geographical, artistic and situational variants.
  3. „impact on present European debates“: How does the history of oppositional music affect present Europe and European identity today?
  4. „reconstructing historical performances as resistance“: In cooperation with artists, ensembles and orchestras such as the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Pre-Art and Warsaw Symphony exemplary case studies reveal how much the resistance potential of music owed to extraordinary performance conditions.

In close alliance with pioneering archive work the transfer of knowledge and results is a priority of the network: to combine academic research and teaching, for innovative exchange between art and science („artistic research“), for thematic cooperation with European institutions for the arts and science.

A coordinated PhD-program, thematic summer schools and methodological training programs will integrate young scholars into related international, historical and disciplinary debates.

The different research project of network members will produce individual publications, host conferences and coordinate joint ventures of additional public and scientific projects.

Innovative strategies and digital tools will transfer results into public knowledge realms via Podcasts, PDF-files, a database with features for open access and experts.

All members of the network offer expert service including counseling for European and national public political institutions.

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