A Musical League of Nations

A ‘Musical League of Nations’?: Music Institutions and the Politics of Internationalism

This is a British Academy funded project, focusing on music institutions and initiatives that were explicitly shaped by the project of internationalism during the twentieth century.

Organisations such as the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), the International Musicological Society (IMS), as well as a range of smaller musical meetings throughout Europe and America during the interwar and post-war periods, subscribed to a similar set of ideological precepts.

These organisations and meetings did not only involve musical composition and performance, or academic discussion, but they also often included public congresses that prompted debate around issues that went far beyond the simple celebration of international cooperation, or of music as an expression of a common humanity.

They grappled with the contradiction between the idea of a non-national music or music scholarship and the decidedly national inflections of musical autonomy itself, and they struggled to reconcile the fact that music’s putative detachment from the social realm was what gave it its ‘universal’ potential, yet the project of internationalism was a political one, struck through with ideas about social justice and ethical responsibility.

Project Team

Professor Laura Tunbridge (University of Oxford)

Dr Sarah Collins (University of Western Australia

Professor Barbara Kelly (RNCM)


A ‘Musical League of Nations’?: Music Institutions and the Politics of Internationalism Symposium, 29-30 June 2018, Institute of Musical Research, Senate House, London:

Event details

Event programme

A publication arising from the conference is in press: Roundtable on Internationalism, JRMA, edited by Sarah Collins, Laura Tunbridge and Barbara L. Kelly

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