Musical Journeys

Musical Journeys: Performing Migration in Twentieth-Century Music

This work explores concepts of migratory musical culture and aesthetics and links these to wider socio-cultural backgrounds. Zooming in on specific migratory moments, to enable discussion on themes such as institutionalisation, nationalism, displacement, modernism, and Jewishness, and uncover the potential of seemingly marginalised migratory musics to inform dominant historiographical narratives.

The displacement of European musics and musicians is a defining feature of twentieth-century music history. This research uses vignettes of migratory moments in the works of Hanns Eisler in Paris, Mátyás Seiber in London, and István Anhalt in Montreal to investigate concepts of identity construction and musical aesthetics in the light of migratory experiences.

Moving between the Austro-Hungarian Empire, proto-fascist Hungary, fascist Germany, war-time Britain, post-war Canada, and socialist East Germany, the work explores aspects of musical migrant culture including creative responses to nationalist ideas and politics, the role of cultural institutions in promoting (or censoring) the works of immigrant composers, and the complex interaction between Jewish identity and memory. It contends that an approach to music through the lens of migration can challenge and enrich socio-cultural understandings of music as well as conceptions of music historiography.

Drawing on exile, diaspora, migration and mobilities studies, critical theory, and post-colonial and cultural studies, Musical Journeys weaves detailed biographical and contextual historical knowledge and analytical insights into music into an intricate fabric that does justice to the complexity of the musical migratory experience.


Florian Scheding is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol.


Florian Scheding (2019) Musical Journeys: Performing Migration in Twentieth-Century Music, Boydell Press (SBN: 9781783274611)

This project is associated with the MMB Challenge on Representation, belonging, futures