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Music History & Criticism

Music in World War II

Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States

edited by Pamela M. Potter, Christina Baade & Roberta Montemorra Marvin

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
History & Criticism, World War II, Philosophy & Social Aspects
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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How can music withstand the death and destruction brought on by war? Global conflicts of the 20th century fundamentally transformed not only national boundaries, power relations, and global economies, but also the arts and culture of every nation involved. An important, unacknowledged aspect of these conflicts is that they have unique musical soundtracks. Music in World War II explores how music and sound took on radically different dimensions in the United States and Europe before, during, and after World War II. Additionally, the collection examines the impact of radio and film as the disseminators of the war's musical soundtrack. Contributors contend that the European and American soundtrack of World War II was largely one of escapism rather than the lofty, solemn, heroic, and celebratory mode of "war music" in the past. Furthermore, they explore the variety of experiences of populations forced from their homes and interned in civilian and POW camps in Europe and the United States, examining how music in these environments played a crucial role in maintaining ties to an idealized "home" and constructing politicized notions of national and ethnic identity. This fascinating and well-constructed volume of essays builds understanding of the role and importance of music during periods of conflict and highlights the unique aspects of music during World War II.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Pamela M. Potter is Professor of German and Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is author of Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler's Reich and Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts and editor (with Celia Applegate) of Music and German National Identity. Christina L. Baade is Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University. She is author of the award-winning Victory through Harmony: The BBC and Popular Music in World War II and editor (with James Deaville) of Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences. Roberta Montemorra Marvin is Professor of Musicology and Chair of the Department of Music and Dance at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is author of many books, including The Politics of Verdi's Cantica, and is editor of the critical edition of that work for the Works of Giuseppe Verdi series.

Editorial Reviews

Music in World War II is a book that is really worth reading not only because it is a true page-turner and the stories are unique and fascinating, but also because it truly adds to our knowledge of World War II events from a perspective that is even wider than just music.

Music Reference Services Quarterly

The newly published Indiana University Press book, Music in World War II: Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States, has enlarged my understanding of how music became a tool of war for allies and adversaries alike, as opponents became allies and allies became opponents in a shifting landscape of diplomacy. Music as propaganda wasn't on my radar as a child. . . . The editors designed a book to show a broad base of music's power to shape citizens and soldiers in wartime. They chose essayists whose imperative brings us into the moments of real people in a world of divisiveness. In my childhood household I was instructed, "We are fighting for ideals, for 'liberty and justice for all.' When the war is over and we are winners we have work to do to make America a safe place for everyone. Always make something better for everyone." A powerful charge for a little kid.