Estonian Festival of Song and Dance
During World War II, the Soviet Union paid a huge price in human lives. All of the Soviet citizens stepped up in order to ensure Soviet victory. As a result, the late 1940s and early 1950s saw a slight relaxation in what communism meant to the Soviet Union, in order to effectively reconstruct the war-torn nations and satisfy the growing middle class. Known as the “Big Deal”, this period led to a slightly renewed sense of nationalism in Soviet territories, especially so in Estonia, which used music as a way to rebuild its culture.
In 1947, Estonia held a Festival of Song and Dance. First celebrated in 1869, the festival occurred every five years, though it was interrupted during World War II. 1947 saw a return of the festival. The festival was a way for Estonians to celebrate pride in their nation through patriotic songs sung by massive choruses. While Estonia was under the control of the Soviet Union, the songs focused on promoting Soviet values more so than on Estonian national pride, even leading to a replacement of the Estonian National Anthem (listen below). The festival became a careful balance between Estonian pride and Soviet obedience. However, the government still allowed the festival to take place, in order to allow the Estonian citizens to feel that they had some freedom to celebrate their own heritage.
The Song and Dance Festival of Estonia was an important part of the Big Deal for the Estonian people. It allowed them to express love and pride for their heritage, and showed the Estonian people that the Soviet government was generous enough to let them have patriotic festivals.
November 2, 2015 @ 4:08 pm
It is interesting to see how in this case the nationalism that was instilled in these people through celebrations following the war was not for the Soviet Union as a whole but only for the country Estonia itself. I wonder how different their culture was from other countries that drove them to be nationalistic for only their country. It is also rare to see the Soviet Union let them have their own celebration, and it just goes to show how hard and trying times were during the war.
John Mark Mastakas
November 2, 2015 @ 10:45 pm
It’s incredible that something like music can promote such nationalistic feelings and have such an impact as it did in Estonia. It seems that the music festival was much more than just a good time, but an event that carried heavy Estonian independent, yet Soviet obedient undertones. I think this is a great example of the Soviet Union trying to keep the reigns on its empire and appeasing the people to ensure a unified and happy society after such an exhausting event like World War II. Thanks for posting!
November 3, 2015 @ 12:39 am
Even with out translated lyrics, the song successfully conveys strong messages of nationalism and pride with triumphant and celebratory melodies. After looking up the lyrics online, I noticed the sensible change made in 1978, when the anthem was revised and Stalin’s name was taken out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthem_of_the_Estonian_Soviet_Socialist_Republic#lyrics
November 3, 2015 @ 1:02 am
This is a interesting in that it is a compromise. Even the flag in the background is a compromise in mixing the two flags together. After traveling to the Baltic region, the Russian influence was truly there, but many people felt very strong in their, I was in Latvia, Latvian pride. With a history of constantly being taken over, the Baltic culture was something fought for very hard over the years.
November 3, 2015 @ 6:51 am
I love the Soviet sense of generosity, “we will allow you to sing songs about your own country”, not exactly ideal by our standards! but historically even that small allowance backfired on them when the Estonians planned and carried out the singing revolution in the late 80’s.