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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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Singing for Socialism: The FDJ-Singing Movement in Late-1960s German Democratic Republic (GDR)

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Abstract: The Singing Movement of the Free German Youth Organization of the GDR (FDJ-Singebewegung, 1965–1990) embodied the engagement of young musicians in the project of state socialism as well as the authorities’ strategies to support and control the artists. Using an example of a song written by members of the Singing Movement, this chapter illustrates the discussions significant to the Singing Movement and the GDR’s youth policy in the late 1960s. Investigating the grey area in which the protagonists of the Singing Movement were acting leads to a better understanding of the integrating and disintegrating elements of state socialism and the until-today polarizing view upon this area of research.

Keywords: Singing Movement; FDJ-Singing Movement; political song; Oktober-Klub; Hootenanny-Klub; singing club; Central Workshops of the FDJ singing clubs; popular music in the GDR

Disliked, beloved or smiled at, the songs of the Singing Movement were an omnipresent part of the youth culture of the GDR.1 Commonly known under various names, such as ‘political’, ‘red’, ‘engaged’, or ‘GDR-concrete’2 songs, they polarize until today. Most former GDR’s citizens see them as a tool of propaganda; some simply remember them as part of their youth, and for some they are still relevant expressions in imagining a better world order called socialism.

In the more general studies on the GDR, the Movement—especially the Oktober-Klub—is exclusively identified as state propaganda. Even if researchers increasingly seek a more differentiated picture of the GDR, the Singing Movement,...

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