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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Music News from Prague

The front page of Music News from Prague, 8/89; and a Chinese edition of a work by Engels. The newsletter was a solid source of information about Czech (and other nationalities') classical music, and performances and recordings of the works of Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů, and others. There were few, if any, overt political overtones to the publication -- but it was free, had no ads, and was printed with an appealingly old-fashioned press and type. I saw a notice in some pen pal magazine about getting a gratis lifetime subscription to Music News, and sent a letter to Prague, in the Czech Socialist Republic, reading something like, "Sign me up." As transpired, the subscription, which I had for a few years, was for the lifetime of Marxist-Leninist Czechoslovakia. This issue may well have been one of the last, if not the last, I received, for the Velvet Revolution was only a few months off.

Although the tensest period of the Cold War was in the 1950s and 60s, the anxiety remained strong in the 1970s and 1980s, and through Gorbachev's tenure, right up until the 1989-91 period (and in a lesser way, some of the rivalries still go on now).  Had the Cuban Missile Crisis exploded into a war, the whole circus might have closed down; At the least we would be living in a considerably different world. But there was no general sense that the USSR and its satellite states, and outliers such as Albania and Yugoslavia, were in any way weak or about to collapse, right up until the abrupt end (complicated by the survival of a few Communist lands today, some more nominal than others). The ending of an ostensibly bipolar world (leaving aside the Sino-Soviet rift) had an almost religious aspect to it.

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