In the wake of World War II, the arts and culture of Europe became a site where the devastating events of the 20th century were remembered and understood. Exploring one of the most integral elements of the cinematic experience—music—the essays in this volume consider the numerous ways in which post-war European cinema dealt with memory, trauma and nostalgia, showing how the music of these films shaped the representation of the past. The contributors consider films from the United Kingdom, Poland, the Soviet Union, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands, providing a diverse and well-rounded understanding of film music in the context of historical memory.

Memory is often underrepresented within scholarly musical studies, with most of these applications found in the disciplines of ethnomusicology, popular music studies, music cognition, and psychology and music therapy. Likewise, trauma has mainly been studied in relation to music in only a few historical contexts, while nostalgia has attracted even less academic attention. In three parts, this volume addresses each area of study as it relates to the music of European cinema from 1945 to 1989, applying an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how films use music to negotiate the precarious relationships we maintain with the past. Music, Collective Memory, Trauma, and Nostalgia in European Cinema after the Second World War offers compelling arguments as to what makes music such a powerful medium for memory, trauma and nostalgia.

chapter |22 pages


part I|86 pages

Collective Memory and (Trans-)Nation

part II|98 pages

Trauma and Survival

chapter 5|27 pages

Hidden in Plain View

The Music of Holocaust Survival in Poland’s First Post-war Feature Film*

chapter 6|21 pages

Empathy, Ethics, and Film Music

Alfred Schnittke and Larisa Shepit’ko’s Voskhozhdenie (1977, The Ascent)

chapter 7|25 pages

Fugue States

Music, Memory, and Trauma in Alain Resnais’s Early 1960s Films *

chapter 8|23 pages

Re-Sounding Trauma

Sonic Flashbacks in the Films of Jan Troell *

part III|92 pages

Nostalgia, and the Impossible Returns Home

chapter 9|28 pages

Decomposing Heroism

Rolf Wilhelm’s Music for Radetzkymarsch (1965)

chapter 10|18 pages

The Music of Sacrificial Acts

Displacement, Redemption, Beethoven, and Verdi in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983) 1

chapter 11|23 pages

“Chopin Meant Everything to Us Then” 1

Chopin Nostalgia in Polish Cinema, 1944–91 *

chapter 12|22 pages

Returning Home

Critical Nostalgia and French Cinematic Illusion in the Post-war Musical Films of René Clair and Jean Renoir