Magazine article Czech Music

Fifty Years of Czech Music Information Centre

Magazine article Czech Music

Fifty Years of Czech Music Information Centre

Article excerpt

The Music Information Centre, the publisher of the journal you are reading, will soon be celebrating 50 years of its operation. The following text briefly describes the foundation of the institution, deals with its role and possibilities in a totalitarian regime and, finally, gives an account of its transformation into the current form.

"Music Information Centre" is a general title that designates an institution gathering, storing and providing information "on the musical culture of the territory to which it appertains, as well as receiving and disseminating information on foreign musical culture, with the aim to encourage, in particular, performance of contemporary works of music both on the national and international scale. This mission has been common to all music information centres, including the Czech one, since the very beginning of their existence. Back at the first meeting of "national music centres" (according to the official protocol: the "Meeting of National Music Centre representatives organised by the International Music Council in co-operation with the Donemus Foundation and the Dutch National Music Committee") from six European countries, in 1958 in Amsterdam, the then Czechoslovakia was represented by Pavel Eckstein, a delegate of the Union of Czechoslovak Composers, who delivered a report of the territory he stood for. Although at the time Czechoslovakia was part of the bloc of states controlled by Moscow through local communist parties, owing to its having condemned the most blatant errors and the greatest atrocities of the Stalin era and on the basis of its economic and cultural upswing, often attained despite the obstacles continuously placed by the communist regime, the domestic situation appeared to be so stabilised and promising that in 1960 the "establishment of socialism in Czechoslovakia" was declared. Furthermore, the ruling structure's confidence in the existing state system's permanence allowed for moderate loosening of the totalitarian grip.

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In 1961 the Minister of Education and Culture set up the Committee for Promotion of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic Through Czech and Slovak Music, made up of representatives of 16 central authorities, institutions and organisations, with its secretariat being the Music Information Centre, whose one and only employee worked from February 1962 until the end of 1963 within the State Music Publisher in Prague. Owing to the ineffectiveness of this system, upon the proposal of the Union of Czechoslovak Composers, with effect from 1 January 1964 the Ministry of Education and Culture replaced it with the Music Information Centre within the Czech Music Fund in Prague, headed by Milena Galuskova, and within the Slovak Music Fund in Bratislava, headed by Ernest Zavarsky, while at significant international meetings the two centres were deemed a single organisation represented by the workplace in Prague, up until Czechoslovakia's split into the independent Czech and Slovak states at the beginning of 1993. Secured by permanent, state--determined income, the Czech and Slovak Music Funds were from the very outset of their existence able--even compared to similar institutions abroad - to sustain generously in material terms the development of music-information activities that were in compliance with their mission.

In 1964 the periodical Music News from Prague (initially comprising four pages and edited by Pavel Eckstein) began to be published in English, German, French, Spanish and Russian versions. The same year saw the launch of separate English, German and Russian six-page pamphlets dedicated to contemporary Czech and Slovak composers, the first one dealing with Jan Cikker, followed over the next few years by titles devoted to Alois Haba, Pavel Borkovec, Jan Kapr, Vladimir Sommer, Eugen Suchon, Petr Eben, Jan Hanus, Miloslav Kabelac, with more pamphlets, some of them updated, with the total print run of 5-10 thousand copies, ensiling annually. …

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