Performing Austria: Protesting the Musical Nation

Allyson Fiddler


The Austrian national elections of 1999 and the subsequent government formation in 2000 sparked a wave of protests, both at home and abroad, due to the inclusion of the extreme-right, populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) into the coalition. This article examines a body of protest music (ranging from heavy metal, rock and punk, to mock-choral and microtonal) that came about between 1999 and 2004 as a direct response to the turn in Austrian politics towards the extreme right. In interrogating this protest music I discern an important and hitherto under-researched facet of identity-(de)construction in Austria’s artistic self-expression. It suggests a highly politicised counter-image to the usual, musically inspired representations of Austria, the land more readily associated abroad with Mozart and Haydn, the Vienna boys’ choir, waltzing and yodelling. The music here is interrogated for the textual and musical strategies it deploys, and the spaces and icons of protest performance are probed for their efficacy and for the political interventions that they engender.


Protest Music, Austria, Far-Right Politics, Anti-Far-Right Politics

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