Post-War Friendship Between Neighbors: An outline of Soviet-Finnish Music Exchanges from 1944 towards the collapse of the Soviet Union

Meri Elisabet Herrala
University of Helsinki, E-mail: meri.herrala@helsinki.fi

Acknowledgements
This paper is based on the presentation made at the Fifth international conference on Baltic and Nordic Studies in Romania A piece of culture, a culture of peace, re-imaging European communities in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions, hosted by Valahia University of Târgovişte and the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, August 17-19, 2014. Supported by EEA Grants, contract no 4/22.07.2014.

Abstract:
In this article, I will analyze the role of music in the process of building peaceful relations between the Soviet Union and the Republic of Finland after the Second World War. The role of music as a weapon of “soft power” was an important alternative in Finnish-Soviet relations in order to enhance understanding between them and to avoid further conflict.
I will analyze how the leading Soviet soloists were often first “tested” in Finland before their further outreach to the West from 1944 to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because of its position as a neutral country between the East and the West Finland was seen as a safe experimental location in which to evaluate the performers’ loyalties to the Soviet regime. However, violinist Victoria Mullova’s 1983 defection to the West via Finland showed that the Soviet power was not so overpowering any more, even towards its own citizens. The Soviet Union was already heading for a collapse due to political and economic realities. Its diminishing cultural influence on the West undermined its power, and accelerated its demise.
Using primary source materials and newspapers mainly from the Finnish National Archives and Sibelius Museum as well as the former Soviet archives in Moscow, I will examine the ways in which Soviet government cooperated with Finnish non-governmental organizations such as the Finland-Soviet Union Friendship Society, the main coordinating body of Finnish-Soviet relations, Finnish concert firms etc.

Rezumat:
În acest articol voi analiza rolul muzicii în procesul construirii relațiilor pașnice între Uniunea Sovietică și Republica Finlanda, după două războaie devastatoare – Războiul de Iarnă și Războiul de Continuare. Rolul muzicii ca armă a „puterii soft”a fost o alternativă importantă în relațiile finlandezo-sovietice, urmărind consolidare înțelegerii dintre cele două părți și evitarea viitoarelor conflicte. Voi arăta modul în care soliștii erau adesea „testați” mai întâi în Finlanda, înainte de a porni spre Vest. Datorită poziției sale de stat neutru între Răsărit și Apus, Finlanda era văzută ca un loc sigur pentru experimente, în care putea fi evaluată loialitatea interpreților față de regimul sovietic. Cu toate acestea, cererea de azil politic adresată Occidentului de către violonista Victoria Mullova în 1983 din Finlanda a arătat faptul că puterea sovietică nu mai era atât de covârșitoare, chiar față de propriii cetățeni. Odată cu declinul influenței culturale sovietice în Occident, sistemul sovietic însuși se îndrepta spre sfârșit. Voi examina, de asemenea, modul în care guvernul sovietic a cooperat cu organizațiile non-guvernamentale finlandeze, precum Societatea Finlandezo-Sovietică, principalul organism de coordonare a relațiilor dintre cele două state, cu firmele finlandeze de concerte etc.

Keywords: “soft-power” diplomacy, the Finland-Soviet Union Friendship Society, the Finnish-Soviet Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, Emil Gilels, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Victoria Mullova

https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/files/2018/12/05.Herrala.pdf