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Eastern European musicians and the West
Posted by Geoff Diggines on July 2, 2017, 9:25 am
I have noticed that particularly Brit music critics tend to take a binary position seeing everything in the old Soviet system as bad, and everything in the west as good. But in reality the situation was/is far more complex. One eminent critic, talking of the great Czech conductor Rafael Kubelik, claimed that he came to the west (UK)to escape Soviet rule, as though everything the west would be a paradigm of freedom. Kubelik became music director at Covent Garden and gave some impressive productions (notably a complete version of 'Les Troyens'), but was the victim of a chauvinistic and racist campaign led by a senior knighted Brit conductor, which led to his resignation. Just after the fall of the Soviet system the late, underrated German conductor Gerd Albrecht, who became the chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, noted that in central Prague people were sleeping rough in the freezing cold, along side 7 star luxury hotels, an obscene example of predatory capitalism, which sadly persists in London, and other cities. Of course the Soviet system was not perfect, and would probably have delighted in a system (today in the UK) of mass surveillance of its citizens. And it seems far less possible now to invest the west with total virtue, with its perpetual wars and threats of lethal terrorism. A recent study of Soviet architecture including pervasive social housing, tower blocks etc, finds there was not one instant of a fire disaster caused by inferior anti-fire installations, pre-cautions!
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