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Title: Bad Vibrations: A History of Soviet-U.S. Musical Exchange
Authors: Honegger, Matthew
Advisors: Morrison, Simon
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: American music
Cultural diplomacy
Cultural Exchange
Soviet music
Subjects: Music history
Russian history
Slavic studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation explores the history of Soviet-US musical exchange from the Great Depression to the post-Stalin Thaw and beyond from the perspective of Soviet cultural diplomacy. Drawing on institutional records, correspondence, scores, recordings, memoirs, and music criticism, it sheds light on an eclectic set of issues, including friendship, music circulation, information flow, reception history, and the Soviet Union’s relationship with Russia Abroad. While many accounts of Soviet-U.S. exchange emphasize discontinuity – the capriciousness of Soviet cultural policy under Stalin meant that the Soviet Union cycled through periods of openness and closure – this dissertation instead focuses on continuity. It attempts to bridge a gap between scholarship on interwar and wartime exchange and the vast body of scholarship on Cold War exchange by shifting attention away from tours and musical performance toward activities occurring behind the scenes. To that end, it draws on both the tools of institutional history and microhistory, focusing especially on the activities of the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS) and the Composers’ Union, as well as the career, relationships, and writings of Stalinism’s leading music diplomat, Grigorii Shneyerson. The first three chapters deal with exchange during the 1930s, centering on information exchange, the American premiere of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth, and plans to send Soviet musicians to the 1939 World’s Fair; the fourth and fifth chapters detail exchange efforts during the Second World War, examining how Soviet cultural diplomacy built networks through correspondence, friendship societies, and material exchange and how these networks subsequently collapsed by the end of the 1940s; the final chapter focuses on echoes of this earlier exchange during the Cold War, figuring the mid-1950s as a return of the repressed by examining Shneyerson’s reemergence as a professional cultural diplomat in the wake of Stalin’s death.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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