Lithuanian and Polish Musical Networking during the Cold War: Political Curtains and Cultural Confrontations

  • Rūta Stanevičiūtė Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius
Keywords: Music and politics; oppositional cultural networking; transnational diffusion; Polish-Lithuanian musicians’ collaboration; Cold War; identity (trans)formation


Poland and Lithuania at the end of the Cold War serve as a case study for the theorization of music and politics. In this article, a little-studied field of two neighbouring countries’ cultures has been chosen: oppositional musical networking, that in addition resulted in politically and socially engaged collaboration between Polish and Lithuanian musicians since late 1970s.

Basing on the concept of a transformative contact (Padraic Kenney 2004), the author reflects on the factors which predetermined the intercommunication of informal communities in mentioned countries in the years of ideological and political constraints and the ways in which such relationships contributed to the cultural and political transformation of societies. Through the interactions of the milieus of the Polish and Lithuanian contemporary music, the participation of the norms and representations of one culture in the field of the other culture is discussed. The author shows that the paradoxical constraints on the informal relations between Lithuanian and Polish musicians were strongly affected by the political relations between the USSR and the Polish People’s Republic, especially in the wake of the intensification of political resistance to the imposed Communist regime in Poland.

Author Biography

Rūta Stanevičiūtė, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius

Rūta Stanevičiūtė is a full professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Her current field of interest are modernism and nationalism in 20–21-c. music, philosophical and cultural issues in the analysis of contemporary music, music and politics, and the studies of music reception. She is the author of the book The Figures of Modernity. The ISCM and the Spread of Musical Modernism in Lithuania (in Lithuanian, 2015) and co-author of the book Nylon Curtain. Cold War, International Exchange and Lithuanian Music (in Lithuanian, 2018). Currently she co-edited the collections of articles, Of Essence and Context (Springer 2019) and Microtonal Music in Central and Eastern Europe: Historical Outlines and Current Practices (Ljubljana University Press 2019).