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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Polish Music Festivals as a Tool of Socialist Propaganda

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Abstract: In the People’s Republic of Poland, mass culture, including popular music, was at the heart of the authorities from 1944 to 1989. At that time, mass culture was supposed to carry out propagandist, ideological, and educational goals. It was meant to create a socialist version of so-called mass culture. Soc-mass-culture, which was to be different from its Western counterpart, was primarily to be politicized. The article discusses the four most important popular song festivals—the Międzynarodowy Festiwal Piosenki [The International Song Festival] in Sopot, the Krajowy Festiwal Piosenki Polskiej [The National Festival of Polish Songs] in Opole, the Festiwal Piosenki Żołnierskiej [The Soldier Song Festival] in Kołobrzeg, and the Festiwal Piosenki Radzieckiej [The Festival of Soviet Songs] in Zielona Góra—with attention also given to their propaganda character.

Keywords: Polish music festivals; propaganda; the People’s Republic of Poland

After Poland in the mid-1950s moved away from socialist realism as the dominant direction in art, as well as in music, it became extremely popular to organize music festivals, including those of popular music. Such undertakings were carried out with the full approval of the state authorities that were aware of the potential ingrained in popular music. The festivals were organized periodically, most frequently annually, and at the same place. These festivals were mainly reviews of the achievements of soloists and bands, frequently combined with a competition featuring the winners of the event’s individual editions.

Music is a common...

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