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‘Unconscious syncretism and wilful pragmatism’: A note on the Slovenian salon music’s aesthetics at the end of the nineteenth century

The quote in the title of this paper, borrowed from Borut Loparnik’s survey of the nineteenth-century music practices in the territory of today’s Slovenia, neatly encompasses two main levers of a peripheral, by nature a reactionary cultural milieu, exercised to a considerable extend by non-professionals. Yet the ‘syncretism’, or better: heterogeneity, and ‘pragmatism’ imply a process of forming more important phenomena, constituting the milestones of a culture in which the national imagery functioned as a kind of a litmus paper pointing at the changes in understanding music. In the Slovenian case, there were four lines of force throughout the musical life of the nineteenth century: opera and church music throughout the century, the middle class salon music (salonska glasba) in the first and, in the second half of the century, its more nationalistic counterpart embodied in reading room (čitalnice) music, to which the musical education should be added.