Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)



First Advisor

Sophie Benn

Second Advisor

Nicholas Johnson

Third Advisor

Frank Felice


Since its founding in 1909 by F. T. Marinetti, the artistic movement of futurism gathered momentum as a politically charged avant-garde that challenged tradition and day-to-day life while promoting nationalism, war, and complete artistic expression. Marinetti and his artistic movement followed fascisms’ slow march to power through multiple aesthetic phases, beginning with the study of movement through plastic dynamism (1909-1919), engaging with speed and controlled power through machine aesthetics (1920-1929), cumulating with the more mystical aeroaesthetics (1929-1944), which Marinetti described as “the daughter of fascist aviation and Italian Futurism.”

This posturing was not done merely in support of fascism. In 1929, Marinetti was elected to the Academy of Italy, serving within Mussolini’s government. It was then that he published the Futurist Manifesto of Aeropainting and relabeled his own free-words poetry as aeropoesia. In seeking to establish futurism as a national art, Marinetti recognized that his movement must give up the political provocation that so defined it; but in order to preserve the avant-garde identity of futurism, he had to resist Mussolini’s reactionary preferences for realist art. With the conflicting fascist and avant-garde impulses as a guide, this thesis diagnoses aeromusic with a split personality. I contend that the representation of airplanes in aeromusic like that of Mario Monachesi’s, functions as a floating signifier of Italian supremacy under fascism, making it useful fascist propaganda; while the compositional practices of geometricism and synthesis subtly pushed back against conservative tastes in hopes of restoring the avant-garde Italian culture that futurism enjoyed in its first two decades. Aerofuturism, an institutionalized futurism in the 1930s, was a far more postured polemic than the anarcho-fasci-syndicalist futurism of the 1910s: a slap on the wrist of fascist taste.

My research explores the music created by the most prominent composer of aeromusic, Mario Monahcesi, and places his aeromusic within the broader narrative of the futurists’ reluctant assimilation into fascist culture by creating an inoffensive avant-garde that used the airplane, a fascist symbol, as a means of furthering the futurist fascination with dynamism, synthesis, nationalism, and war, while subtly critiquing the conservative reactions of Il Duce that had increased along with Mussolini’s ties to Nazi Germany.

Included in

Music Commons