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Nationalism in Music

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The music of Mikhail Glinka earned him credit for launching Russian nationalism. His most famous opera, A Life for the Tsar, celebrates the triumph and suffering of a patriotic peasant who protects the Russian tsar from a band of Poles.

Detail from The Oxford History of Western Music, Volume III Oxford University Press hide caption

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Oxford University Press

Detail from The Oxford History of Western Music, Volume III

Oxford University Press

But nationalism is full of paradoxes, musicologist Richard Taruskin says. The dances of A Life for the Tsar are kracoviaks and mazurkas — the music of Poland, not Russia. Taruskin, author of the new Oxford History of Western Music, talks with NPR's Fred Child.