CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Music is an example of successful intercultural communication, in the sense that the construction of a cultural identity and of national music schools rarely close doors to the outside world. With European composers such as Lizst, beyond the apparent contradiction between cosmopolitanism and nationalism lies a productive confrontation with other cultures that most often derives from the dynamics of cultural transfers as theorized by Michel Espagne and Michael Werner. European art music, also called “serious” or “cultivated” music, has spread across the world, taking off initially in the Far East, where it is known as “classical.” Its worldwide dissemination underlines the European and global nature of Western art music. Describing a globalized form of music as “Western” or “European” defines its Europeanness as perceived from the outside. This musical Europeanness also chimes in with the openness to the world prefigured by the Goddess Europa: Sonja Neef has established a link between Europa’s journey across the Mediterranean and the spread, along the same maritime routes, of the Phoenician alphabet. Europe thus has its origins in migration and cultural transfers, which have since become one of Europe’s major assets. The idea of Europe as an embodiment of transfer could then replace two archetypes: the Europe of nations and Europe as a homogeneous area. Cultural transfers can go further than translation, which, though indispensable, is not enough to counter the uncommunication that reigns in Europe today, provided that the instrumentalization that is sometimes inherent to transfers is clearly discerned.


  • music
  • Franz Liszt
  • intra-European communication
  • Europeanness
  • the myth of Europa
  • cultural transfers
  • globalisation
  • Hungary
  • national music schools
  • cosmopolitanism
  • nationalism
  • cultural identity
  • Western art music
  • classical music
  • Far East
  • translation
Damien Ehrhardt
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