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Virtuosi AbroadSoviet Music and Imperial Competition during the Early Cold War, 1945-1958$
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Kiril Tomoff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453120

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453120.001.0001

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From a Musical Holiday to the Tchaikovsky Competition

From a Musical Holiday to the Tchaikovsky Competition

Moscow as a Global Center of Musical Culture

(p.82) Chapter 3 From a Musical Holiday to the Tchaikovsky Competition
Virtuosi Abroad

Kiril Tomoff

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at the long-term initiative to establish the ultimate international music competition in Moscow. It narrates the tale of an ill-fated Moscow Musical Holiday, proposed in the late Stalin period as an impracticably grand musical festival that would have placed Moscow as the center of global musical culture. When the original proposal's extravagant vision collided with Soviet financial realities, it was reduced to its core, the International Tchaikovsky Competition. The chapter also studies one of the most famous events of the cultural Cold War, the young Van Cliburn's victory in the piano division of the first Tchaikovsky Competition. Soviet officials' reaction to his win revealed that the Soviet leadership had become so confident of cultural superiority. Such overconfidence led them to overestimate the comparative strength of the Soviet system, with results that would eventually prove disastrous.

Keywords:   Moscow Musical Holiday, late Stalin period, global musical culture, International Tchaikovsky Competition, Van Cliburn, Soviet leadership

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