Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Between East and West: Ideology, aesthetics and politics in the musical relations between Sweden and the GDR 1949–1989

Ämne: Etnologi
Projektledare: Petra Garberding
Startår: 2016
Projekttyp: Projekt

Germany has since the 19th century been an important country of interest for musicians and composers from Sweden, both as a platform for international attention and in order to get a high standard musical education. During the Nazi period the musical connections were not cut off, but the reactions towards the excessive politicization of music were quite different. After World War II endeavors have been made in order to reshape the musical contacts between Sweden and the newly shaped German states. Sweden as a political neutral state had a special position during the Cold War. GDR authorities defined Sweden as an important country for their political propaganda. 

This project aims to study and analyze the musical relationship between Sweden and the GDR. Which role did music play in GDR’s attempted rapprochement with Sweden? And how did musicians, composers, musicologists and institutions in Sweden frame the musical encounters with the GDR and why? Central issues in the project will include the encounters between GDRs internationally oriented culture politics (and those operating in the field) and the musical organizations and stakeholders in Sweden. Main questions in the project are:

How can the musical encounters between Sweden and the GDR been characterized regarding dimensions, key areas, organizations and alteration?

How did esthetic and musicological ideas connect to politics and ideology in the musical relationship between Sweden and the GDR?
How do analyses of the musical encounters contribute to a better understanding of the Cold War context?

So far there are only a few studies which concentrate on questions of cultural encounters between Sweden and the GDR. In this project documents from Swedish and German archives will be studied and contemporary witnesses will be interviewed. Three researchers from the disciplines History, Ethnology and Musicology will tightly work together. From a historical perspective the context of the German musical heritage for national identity construction within Swedish-East German musical relations will be examined, ethnological perspectives offer analytical tools for studying opinions on music, esthetics and politics in different groups and societies, and musicology contributes with theories and methods for studying how different music genres and styles could be instrumentalized in political propaganda.

Final report - Petra Garberding - Between East and West: Ideology, aesthetics and politics in the musical relations between Sweden and the GDR 1949–1989