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Nationalism - A Dirty Word?

December 2, 2010

flag.jpegFor many artists, "nationalism," is a pejorative term. But need it be?

I got onto the wrong side of a wonderful Mexican composer today by wanting to talk about the nationalistic aspect of some of his work. By his own admission, the pieces we discussed are inspired by Mexican cultural pride. His works contrast wildly from that of the Nationalism-With-A- Capital-N of pieces by the likes of Revueltas, Ponce and Chavez. They celebrate Mexico in a different way, with a sense of humor and a unique musical language. There's no confusing my composer friend's nationalistic works with the Nationalistic ones of the composer's forebears.

And yet the N word seems to stick in his craw.

I don't see why that should be the case. People take from his music what they will. Knowing that it is inspired by the culture and heritage of Mexico creates a gleaming prism through which to understand the work more deeply. That's all. It's nothing to be ashamed of.


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