The Rome-Berlin Axis: musical interactions between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in redrawing a 'New Order for European Culture'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The extent to which Fascist Italy responded to German musical imperialism after the signing of the Axis agreement remains an open question Despite Mussolini slavishly following Hitler in promulgating racial laws in 1938 and thereby removing Jewish musicians from Italian musical life, major musical figures such as Casella and Dallapiccola, although married to Jews, were able to continue their careers as before. As the two countries grew closer together politically, an attempt was made to forge a strong alliance between German and Italian musical culture. Yet whereas Germany between 1938 and 1944 mounted a huge number of German-Italian music festivals featuring several premieres of contemporary Italian operas, Italy paid little more than lip service in supporting new German music. Indeed the cultural alliance between the two nations was sufficiently flimsy for the Italians to have the temerity to defy Nazi cultural propaganda and mount two culturally ‘degenerate’ works (Berg’s Wozzeck and Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin in Rome and Milan during the 1942/43 season. This chapter examines musicological writings, critical discourse and performance history of the time to assess how effectively Italy steered its own independent course throughout the War.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook to Music under German Occupation, 1938-1945
Subtitle of host publicationPropaganda, Myth and Reality
EditorsDavid Fanning
Place of PublicationAbingdon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-515-23061-0, Erik Levi
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-71388-8
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2020


  • Nazi Germany
  • Fascist Italy
  • Cultural history

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