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This round table grew out of two gatherings in 2018–19 that endeavoured to bring musicologists into dialogue with recent revisions in the history of international relations.1 Our specific focus was the interwar period, more often discussed in terms of nationalism – or perhaps at best transnationalism – than within the context of internationalism, a principle that lay behind the foundation of elite governmental organizations such as the League of Nations, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and others. As the historians Glenda Sluga and Patricia Clavin have shown, the construction of objects of global governance by these organizations ran alongside a broader sweep of non-governmental groupings that forwarded the interests of indigenous, working-class, anti-colonialist, anti-slavery and feminist causes.2 What role or roles did music play in these contexts? The case studies that follow illustrate the far-reaching implications of internationalist policies for musical institutions, groups and individuals.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Royal Musical Association


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date





557 - 560