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Musicology Lecture : Gleb Tsipursky, The Ohio State University

Gleb Tsipursky of The Ohio State University discusses"Soviet Jazz Networks and the Cold War in the 1960's."

Soviet jazz networks - the network of contacts between jazz musicians, promoters, and fans - played an important role in the musical life of the Cold War Soviet Union. This presentation traces the gradual growth of these jazz networks from the local level to the city, province, country-wide, and even international level. New institutions and events, such as jazz clubs, jazz exchanges, youth cafes, and jazz festivals, enabled this growth, and these networks impacted everyday lives. Moreover, these jazz networks played an important role in the Soviet domestic cultural front of the Cold War, regarding Soviet jazz musicians visiting international jazz events and foreign jazz musicians coming to the USSR. The evidence shows that Soviet jazz exchanges with other socialist states strengthened Soviet bloc unity by creating a more cohesive socialist musical sphere, with the varied countries reinforcing each other’s musical production. Yet such cross-border interplay enabled the rapid spread of western cultural influence from the most westernized socialist countries to the USSR, contributing to the population’s fascination with western popular culture and especially music, an important factor in the eventual Soviet demise. As for jazz exchanges with western capitalist states in the 1960s, this research suggests that such interactions contributed to Soviet and western cultural diplomacy goals by humanizing the foreign “Other” and ameliorating tensions, thus helping lead to d├ętente.

Gleb Tsipursky is an assistant professor of history at The Ohio State University, Newark Campus. He writes about modernity, youth, popular culture, consumption, emotions, the Cold War, globalization, social control, policing, and violence in the Soviet Union. He has published a brief monograph in the Carl Beck Papers series, entitled "Having Fun in the Thaw: Youth Initiative Clubs in the Post-Stalin Years" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012). He is now completing a monograph entitled “Socialist Fun: Youth, Consumption, and State-Sponsored Popular Culture in the Cold War Soviet Union, 1945-1970.” His next planned project is a study on volunteer militias in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia. He has been awarded fellowships by the Kennan Institute, the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Education Program Service, and the International Research and Exchanges Board.

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