I think that the idea of Frenchness, and of nationalism in general proved to be the most prominent theme. Considering that we’re dealing with France between wars, this makes sense, that the political divide between France and Germany should play out through music as well. Also, primary reading sources addressed this theme more often than any of the others, such as gender, sexuality, and race, which are more retrospective in nature. Contrary to those themes, the idea of nationalism was already well established in the discourse ever since the French revolution. Therefore, it seemed most applicable, when writing from the voice of a person from the 1920s, to talk about nation. Therefore, this made for the best theses, and the best topics.
It is also interesting to see different artists’ and critics’ take on the idea of nation, and how they differed from one another. One example of this would be D’Indy versus Debussy, to illustrate conservative versus liberal, and academic versus ephemeral styles. It just goes to show how politics can play out through music, which might seem to be, at first glance, an innocent art form.
Perhaps the second most prevalent theme I have noticed would be that of race, because this was perhaps the second most openly talked about issue in 1920s Paris. While we have a different perspective on it retrospectively, 1920’s Parisian artists were certainly race conscious, as evidenced by the interest in jazz and exoticism in general. I put this second because it didn’t figure so prominently into my papers in the same way that nationalism did. Given that my first two papers were about church and organ music, there is not a whole lot to talk about with regards to race. The only time that this did figure in was in my third paper, about Ravel’s sonata for Violin and Piano, the middle movement of which is entitled “blues.” It is also an interesting conversation to have to unpack the idea of exoticism versus paying homage. Which composers were appropriating, and which ones were borrowing respectfully from another culture or country.