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Nietzsche's OrphansMusic, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire$
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Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208894

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208894.001.0001

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date: 16 July 2018

The Medtner Brothers: Orpheus in an Age of Nationalism

The Medtner Brothers: Orpheus in an Age of Nationalism

(p.104) 3 The Medtner Brothers: Orpheus in an Age of Nationalism
Nietzsche's Orphans

Rebecca Mitchell

Yale University Press

The problem of identity within a multiethnic empire is highlighted in this chapter on the brothers Nikolai and Emilii Medtner. As Russian citizens of Baltic German descent, both brothers struggled to reconcile their mixed Russian-German identity within an empire that increasingly sought to define citizens by ethnic origin. Philosopher and critic Emilii Medtner saw it as his brother’s Orphic mission to unite German and Russian national identities through the continuation of the “eternal laws” governing music, thereby overcoming the destructive influence of contemporary life. Both brothers sought to define their place as imperial Russian citizens (rossiiskii) in contrast to an ethnically based understanding of Russian identity (russkii). However, Nikolai Medtner’s non-Russian ethnic background proved increasingly difficult for many of Nietzsche’s orphans to accept, demonstrating a growing uneasiness over ethnic identity within Russian educated society.

Keywords:   Medtner, Baltic German, rossiiskii, russkii, Russian identity, ethnic nationalism

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