NATIONALISM AND CHAMBER MUSIC
THE gradual assertion of musical nationality in the course of the nineteenth century is due to two causes. One is the subjective tendency inherent in the romantic movement. Once the composer stood committed to the subjective expression of things not necessarily connected with music--literary themes, pictorial impressions, his own emotions, and so on--it was only to be expected that he would take themes from the literature with which he was most familiar, record impressions of the scenery of his native country, employ a national melodic idiom, and, consciously or unconsciously, express that side of himself characteristic of the nationality to which he belonged. The other incentive to nationalism was the stifling effect of the German predominance. The influence of the German classics had become so universal that practically all music except that of French and Italian opera was perforce conceived in a German melodic idiom; as Germans naturally handled that idiom better than all others, it was almost impossible for a non-German composer to excel in his art. This seems a strong assertion, but subsequent history justifies it.
As was observed when dealing with the romantic movement, the nature of chamber music rendered it all but immune from the excesses of program music, and as nationalism in music has in itself something of the nature of program, it follows that chamber music was correspondingly slower to show the outward symptoms of nationalism, whatever changes might be taking place in its inner substance. There is very little in chamber music corresponding to Smetana Vltava, Glazounov Stenka Razin, or Vaughan Williams Norfolk Rhapsody, and what little there is is mostly of quite recent