The Alps in the Songs of Switzerland

This research project explores the earliest traces of Swiss folk song. It reveals through representative compositions how social circumstances find expression in song.

Particular attention is paid to the era of the First World War as well as times of cultural strife that posed a threat to the nation-state of Switzerland. Does folk song reflect those troubled times? Do linguistic and political boundaries come to the fore in everyday culture? Is there a desire in the country’s different language regions to know more of the cultures – as expressed through song – of the other Swiss regions?

Attention is also paid to the intellectual defence of the nation during the Second World War and in the aftermath of the war after 1945. A further research objective is to find out whether there exists a consolidation of national cultural ownership, the development of a common, multilingual heritage in matters of song?

The overall aim is to discern continuities and ruptures in the Swiss national conception of self as expressed through song, and to explore the extent to which modern-day songs still draw from traditional Swiss folk song. And, finally, casting an eye toward the future, to ascertain what is the present and likely future impact of immigrant languages, new music genres and regional circumstances on Swiss song culture.


August 2020

Roman Walker