British academy


Red Strains: Music and Communism outside the Communist Bloc after 1945

Thursday 13 - Saturday 15 January 2011
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Convenor: Dr Robert Adlington, University of Nottingham

PROGRAMME (PDF file - 909 KB)

The impact of Communist ideology upon musical production behind the Iron Curtain is widely recognised. However, far less attention has been given to the extensive communist involvement of musicians outside the Communist Bloc.

In the Cold War era, musicians of all kinds were attracted to Communism, and this attraction frequently had dramatic consequences for their music-making. The rise to regional power of Communist parties in parts of Western Europe also saw distinctive interventions in cultural policy which provided opportunities – and obstacles – for local musicians.

This conference aims to survey these developments, addressing topics such as: Trotskyism and the organisation of musical practice; Communism and the folk music revival; music and violent activism; the appeal for musicians of non-Soviet communist states (Vietnam, Cuba, China); the ‘Internationale’ after 1945; Communism and punk in the UK.  A particular feature of the conference will be the participation of musicians who will reflect on their own past communist involvements.

The conference will include a performance of Communist-inspired music (including works by Wolff, Bush and Cardew) by Apartment House.

Keynote speakers: Professor Gianmario Borio, University of Pavia; Professor Anne Shreffler, Harvard University; Dr Konrad Boehmer, Amsterdam;  Professor Giacomo Manzoni, Firenze; Professor Georgina Born, University of Cambridge