Columbia Artists Management

Fighting for the Fiddler: The Competition for Securing David Oistrakh’s First American Concert Tour in 1955


Language: English
Subject(s): Cultural history
Page Range: 35-60
No. of Pages: 26
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Summary/Abstract: After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet Union and the United States began to seek alternatives to their military rivalry by using culture as a weapon of “soft-power” in order to accomplish their foreign policy goals using attraction rather than coercion. As the Cold War intensified, a thriving competition developed between the superpowers to determine which of them could send more cultural diplomats to the other side, in the form of soloists and performing groups. This article addresses the undercurrent of socio-economic and political processes involved in organizing violinist David Oistrakh’s first concert tour of the United States in 1955. I’ll discuss how Soviet organizations worked with non-governmental Western partners, such as concert firms and impresarios to bring Soviet performers to the United States. I’ll outline the development of the competition between Frederick C. Schang from Columbia Artists Management, and Sol Hurok from Hurok Artists, Inc. in the organization of Oistrakh’s American outreach from 1955 to 1959. I’ll also discuss how Soviet and American violinists, such as Oistrakh and Yehudi Menuhin, played significant roles in both the organization of tours and the choice of which concert firms would be used in the future. While driven primarily by economic motivations at first, these cultural overtures would have increasingly political and diplomatic implications as they expanded the Soviet Union’s cultural influence to the West. The ripple effect of this “back door diplomacy” very likely affected the outcome of the Cold War itself.
Open access on CEEOL: NO



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