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The Meanings of Jazz - Public Conference of the Project "Jazz in the Eastern Bloc"

11.06.2010 - 12.06.2010

Jazz has never been simply music. From its very inception, jazz has been imbued with social meaning. This is what makes jazz an interesting field of study not only for the music historian, but also for the sociologist and the cultural historian. In the period and the area that will interest us at this conference, i. e., the state socialist countries of East-Central Europe after World War 2, jazz acquired a special meaning as a symbol of the American way of life, a symbol of freedom – at least for its admirers. The ruling elites and the establishment regarded jazz as music of the class enemy, a music of social degeneration. These contrasting views on jazz led to hot debates over jazz and the implementation of complicated policies towards jazz music and the jazz scene, which oscillated between affirmation and repression.

But even within this framework, the meanings of jazz varied. To a Polish bikiniarz, a member of the most important Polish post-war youth movement, jazz meant something totally different than it did to a member of the Czechoslovak Jazz Section in the 1970s, to cite but one example. In both cases, jazz was associated with freedom, but in very specific ways. At our conference, we would like to discover in detail which meanings jazz transported in selected historical and social situations. Project and conference are sponsored by the German Volkswagen-Stiftung.


Conference Program

Friday, June 11th
6:00 p.m. Siegfried Schmidt-Joos: Die Nacht vor der Flucht: Warum ich 1957 wegen Jazz in den Westen ging. (With translation into English)
  Get together with live music
Saturday, June 12th
9:30 a.m. Gertrud Pickhan / Rüdiger Ritter: Conference Opening
10:00 a.m. Rüdiger Ritter: Is there a specific "Eastern Bloc jazz"?
11:00 a.m. Marta Domurat: "From the Front and from the Back". On the Stories of the Polish Jazz Scene in the People's Republic of Poland.
12:00 p.m. Igor Pietraszewski: Changes in the Society of Jazz Musicians in Poland after the Second World War. A Sociological Analysis.
1:00 p.m.-

 3:00 p.m.

Lunch Break
3:00 p.m. Christian Schmidt-Rost: Cold War and Hot Music. Promoting Jazz in East Germany and Poland.
4:00 p.m. Petr Motycka: Suffering from Jazz. The Czechoslovak Jazz Scene between Autonomy and State Control.
5:00 p.m. Gergö Havadi: Adaptation and Sovereignty of the Hungarian Jazz Scene under Communism. Social- and Microhistorical aspects
6:00 p.m. Closing Discussion


Zeit & Ort

11.06.2010 - 12.06.2010

Slowakisches Kulturinstitut Berlin, Zimmerstrasse 27, 10969 Berlin