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Jazz from Socialist Realism to Postmodernism


Edited By Yvetta Kajanová, Gertrud Pickhan and Rüdiger Ritter

In the 20th century, jazz was an important artistic form. Depending on the particular European country, jazz music carried different social, political and aesthetic meanings. It brought challenges in the areas of racial issues, the politics of the Cold War between East and West, and in the exploration of boundaries of artistic freedom. In socialist Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Poland, the situation began to change after 1956 and then 1968, when the ideologists shifted from the aesthetics of socialist realism to postmodernism. In Western countries such as France and Italy, jazz transformed from a modern to a postmodern period. This volume deals with the impact of these changes on the career development of jazz musicians – even beyond 1989 – in terms of various phenomena such as emigration, child prodigies, multiculturalism, multi-genre approaches, or female jazz musicians.

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Classical Music and Jazz as Inspirations for Modern Music Fusions


Abstract: In Czechoslovakia, Poland and France musicians created remarkable fusions, in which they combined jazz with Baroque works. J.S. Bach was an iconic personage not only for the Modern Jazz Quartet’s members who looked for dignity of American jazz, but he was also a refuge for jazz artists persecuted by the socialist regime.


The subject of music fusions and crossroads is especially topical in post-modern times. However, in the history of jazz, many of these combinations including the relations and cross-influences between classical music and jazz have not yet been explored. The first attempts to fuse them were made in American jazz music as early as the beginning of the 1950s. European jazz artists, including those from the former Eastern Bloc countries, also contributed considerably to this fusion process since its modern jazz continued to develop and follow world trends despite various obstacles, mainly political in nature. In Czechoslovakia and Poland, as well as in other surrounding socialist countries, musicians created remarkable fusions, in which they combined jazz with Baroque works. In the former Soviet Union, jazz emerged as a part of music life in the 1920s. However, in the 1940s and 1950s, bans on publicly-performed jazz music were progressively introduced, as it was symbolic of Western, that is American, music1 and official doctrine expected socialist culture to have different qualities.

In spite of the preconceived idea which still prevails in present-day society that the Iron Curtain in the former Czechoslovak...

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