International Cultural Exchange

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

International Cultural Exchange


In 1978 the Soviet Union engaged in cultural exchange with 120 countries. The history of the USSR’s cultural relations with other countries shows that the policy followed by the Communist Party and Soviet state of developing such exchange stems from the very nature of the socialist order. The building of a communist society presupposes the assimilation and use of the best and most progressive elements of world culture. The USSR views international cultural cooperation as the sharing between countries—on the basis of equality and mutual profit—of the benefits of material and nonmaterial culture for the purpose of strengthening understanding between peoples and enriching national cultures. The USSR’s cultural relations with other countries are founded on respect for, and strict observance of, the principles of sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs and the laws and customs of each participating country.

Steps were taken to establish cultural relations with other countries in the first months after the Great October Socialist Revolution. On Dec. 30, 1917, the Soviet government published an appeal to the peoples and governments of other countries. The appeal stated that the Soviet government “has as its objective the creation of conditions in which ... all peoples can be united in economic and cultural cooperation” (Dokumenty vneshnei politiki SSSR, vol. 1, 1957, p. 68). The policy, proclaimed by V. I. Lenin, of respecting the cultural legacy of the past and making use of the riches of world culture in building a new society attracted the attention of world public opinion.

The Soviet government sought to establish cultural ties not only with the countries of Europe and North America but also with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, particularly Afghanistan, Iran, India, China, Mongolia, and Turkey. Many prominent cultural figures of the West expressed support for the October Revolution and helped establish the first cultural contacts with the worker-peasant state. A striking example of international support for the country of soviets was the manifesto “Against the Blockade,” which was published in the newspaper L’Humanité on Oct. 26, 1919, by a group of leading writers, scientists, and public figures, notably H. Barbusse, J.-R. Bloch, A. France, P. Langevin, H. Mann, G. B. Shaw, R. Tagore, and P. Vaillant-Couturier. Lenin prized the manifesto highly.

International proletarian organizations for solidarity with the new Russia played an important part in the development of cultural exchange. Among those that arose in the 1920’s were the International Workers’ Aid, the International Union of Revolutionary Writers, and the International Bureau of Revolutionary Artists. The formation of the All-Union Society for Foreign Cultural Exchange (VOKS) in 1925 was an important event in the development of the USSR’s cultural relations. The 1920’s and 1930’s saw the emergence in many countries of societies for cultural relations with the USSR and USSR friendship societies.

Literature and book exchange. Many outstanding foreign writers welcomed the October Revolution warmly. Among them were R. Rolland, A. France, T. Dreiser, Z. Nejedlý, M. Andersen Nexö, J. Becher, and Sean O’Casey. Of considerable importance were the activities of J. Reed, who wrote Ten Days That Shook the World, and A. R. Williams, the author of Lenin: The Man and His Work, Through the Russian Revolution, and The Bolsheviks and the Soviets: Seventy-six Questions and Answers on the Workingman’s Government of Russia; these works were based on their authors’ experiences in Soviet Russia. In 1920, H. G. Wells came to Soviet Russia and was received by Lenin. Many other prominent writers visited the USSR in the 1920’s and 1930’s, including I. Olbracht, Andersen Nexö, M. Majerová, Barbusse, Vaillant-Couturier, Becher, A. Seghers, L. Feuchtwanger, Dreiser, L. Aragon, Shaw, Rolland, Nazim Hikmet, and Tagore.

In 1927 about 1,500 foreigners, including many cultural figures, visited the USSR for the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution. A congress of friends of the USSR was held at the same time; citizens of 38 countries served on its presidium.

Beginning in the first years of Soviet power Soviet writers made trips to foreign countries during which they publicized the achievements of the literature of socialist realism. The activities of M. Gorky, who lived abroad for several years, were of great importance. V. Mayakovsky, whose poetry dealing with the Revolution increased the prestige of Soviet culture, went abroad several times; translators of his works included Becher, Aragon, E. Triolet, J. Lindsay, and P. Neruda. Other notable writers who traveled abroad were S. Esenin, L. Seifullina, I. Ehrenburg, V. Lidin, M. Slonimskii, O. Forsh, L. Nikulin, G. Serebriakova, and A. Bezymenskii.

The Vsemirnaia Literatura Publishing House, which was established in 1918 at the initiative of M. Gorky, involved more than 350 scholars, translators, and foreign writers in its projects. By 1924 it had published 213 books, 11 issues of the journals Vostok (The East) and Sovremennyi Zapad (The Contemporary West), and 57 works in the series of anthologies Novosti inostrannoi literatury (New Foreign Literature). The establishment of the publishing house marked the beginning of literary translation in the USSR.

In the period 1930 to 1932, 11 volumes of the collected works of Rolland were published. In 1931 the Khudozhestvennaia Literatura Publishing House published a total of about 1.5 million copies of books by 20 foreign writers, as well as a total of about 1.3 million copies of works by 16 authors in the series Novinki inostrannoi revoliutsionnoi literatury (New Foreign Revolutionary Literature). It also published three editions of a series that included works by Wells, U. Sinclair, Aragon, Dreiser, Becher, M. Zalka, B. Illiés, and B. Jasieński.

Translations of works by Soviet writers were published abroad. At first, works by Gorky predominated; they were translated into 12 languages. Collections of Esenin’s verse and narrative poems appeared in France and Italy between 1923 and 1925. From 1921 to 1924, Soviet writers accounted for about 10 percent of all translated literary works published in Czechoslovakia; in 1926 the figure exceeded 30 percent. Translations of Soviet literary works appeared in the USA, Great Britain, and Canada, with more than 20 titles being released in the period 1930 to 1932. Among the many works by Soviet writers published in Central and Southeastern Europe were M. Sholokhov’s The Quiet Don, F. Gladkov’s Cement, D. Furmanov’s Chapaev, Vs. Ivanov’s Armored Train 14–69, and A. Serafimovich’s The Iron Stream. In January 1930 VOKS established the Committee for the Publication of Soviet Literature Abroad.

Book exchange underwent development in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Central Interdepartmental Commission for the Acquisition and Dissemination of Foreign Literature (Kominolit) was established under the Council of People’s Commissars in 1921 at Lenin’s initiative. The Bureau for International Book Exchange of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was set up in early 1920. In 1921, Finland became the first country to be sent considerable numbers of Soviet publications; it received 150 different titles. In the period 1923 to 1925 more than 74,000 copies of publications of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR were sent to other countries, and more than 50,000 copies of foreign publications were received from abroad. Soviet books were sent to 48 countries, and the USSR received literature from 24 countries.

Soviet publications were displayed at international exhibitions—for example, in 1922 at an exhibition of contemporary publications in Prague and a book fair in Florence. An exhibit of Soviet posters, books, periodicals, and wall newspapers was staged in London in 1925, and an exhibit of Soviet books in Warsaw in 1934.

Soviet literary figures took part in international writers’ congresses in Paris in 1935 and Madrid in 1937. Foreign writers attended the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934 and helped commemorate in 1937 the 100th anniversary of the death of A. S. Pushkin.

Motion pictures. International contacts in the field of motion pictures began with exchange of newsreels and documentary films. The International Workers’ Aid played an important role in the production and distribution abroad of Soviet films, including Five Years of Soviet Russia, May 1, 1922, in Moscow, films about the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Congresses of the Comintern, Lenin’s Funeral, and Mother and Child in Russia. Between 1924 and 1932 it released a total of 241 motion pictures, 34 percent of which were sold to 26 different countries. It also imported about 200 foreign films into the USSR.

In the early 1930’s Soviet motion pictures were shown in 52 countries. At the same time some films were banned, such as Vs. Pudovkin’s The Mother in Great Britain and D. Vertov’s Enthusiasm in Germany. S. Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin enjoyed enormous success; other films that attracted considerable attention were Pudovkin’s The Mother and The End of St. Petersburg, E. Dzigan’s We Are From Kronstadt, A. Zarkhi and I. Kheifits’ Baltic Deputy, and G. Kozintsev and L. Trauberg’s trilogy about Maksim.

Soviet motion pictures were shown at international film festivals. At a film festival in the USA an early feature film, A. Sanin’s Polikushka, was chosen one of the ten best films in the world released in 1922. At an exhibition of the decorative arts in Paris in 1925, two gold medals were awarded to Soviet films (Eisenstein’s Strike and D. Bassalygo’s Flame From SparksFlames) as well as a silver medal and a certificate of merit. The USSR took first place for number of exhibits and variety of materials displayed at an international film exhibition in The Hague in 1928. Among five award-winning films named the best in the world in New York in 1930, there were three Soviet films: Pudovkin’s The Heir to Genghis Khan, A. Dovzhenko’s Earth, and Eisenstein and G. Aleksandrov’s The General Line. The USSR first took part in the Venice Film Festival in 1932. At international film festivals between 1932 and 1937, a number of prizes were awarded to Soviet films, including N. Ekk’s A Pass to Life, Aleksandrov’s Jolly Fellows, V. Petrov’s The Thunderstorm and Peter the First, and St. Petersburg Night by G. Roshal’.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Soviet film companies were sent abroad—Afghanistan in 1928, Yemen in 1929, and Mongolia in 1930. Eisenstein made a trip to Mexico in 1930–31 that was extremely important for the development of Mexican cinematography. I. Trauberg shot the sound film Son of Mongolia in Mongolia in 1936.

The first Moscow International Film Festival was held in 1935. The Soviet films Chapaev by G. Vasil’ev and S. Vasil’ev, Peasants by F. Ermler, and The Youth of Maksim took first prizes.

Fine arts. In 1918 the Department of Fine Arts of the People’s Commissariat for Education established an international bureau. Soviet Russia began organizing art exhibits abroad in the early 1920’s. With Lenin’s vigorous support the first exhibit, which consisted of 600 works, was opened in Berlin in 1922. The second was held in the USA in 1924 and consisted of works by 100 artists, including A. N. Benois, A. M. Vasnetsov, I. I. Brodskii, I. E. Grabar’, and S. T. Konenkov.

The first exchanges of art exhibits took place in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Soviet exhibits traveled to virtually all the countries of Europe and to the USA, Canada, Latin America, and Japan and other countries of Asia. In 1930 the traveling exhibit “Art of the Soviet Union” toured Sweden, Norway, and Germany. It included 150 pictures and about 100 engravings, as well as sculpture and faïence. Soviet exhibitions in 1934 included an art show in the USA, a graphic arts exhibit in Finland, and an art exhibit in Turkey. Exhibitions in 1936 included a graphic arts exhibit in China.

The first exhibition of works of revolutionary artists of the West was held in Moscow in 1926. In the early 1930’s works by artists who were members of the John Reed clubs were twice exhibited in Moscow. An exhibition of French art was organized in 1928, and in 1932 an exhibition of works by Käthe Kollwitz was held in Moscow and Leningrad. Other exhibitions included one devoted to Finnish art in 1934 and one devoted to Belgian painting in 1937.

The USSR began taking part in international art exhibitions in the mid-1920’s. Soviet artists submitted works to the Twenty-fourth International Exhibition of Art in Venice in 1924. In 1925 the USSR took part in the International Exhibition of Modern Art in Paris, where Soviet works received 185 awards, including nine grands prix and 58 gold medals. Later international exhibitions with Soviet works included “Socialist Art Today” in Amsterdam in 1930, the First World Xylography Exhibition in Warsaw in 1931, and an exhibition of graphic arts in Warsaw in 1933.

Theater and music. In the 1920’s and 1930’s trips abroad by Soviet theatrical and musical ensembles became an important form of international cultural exchange. The State Domra Quartet, under the direction of G. P. Liubimov, toured Sweden, Norway, and Finland in 1921. The company of the Moscow Art Theater, under the direction of K. S. Stanislavsky and VI. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, gave 561 performances of Russian and foreign classics before audiences in Germany, Yugoslavia, France, and the USA in the period 1922 to 1924. The company of the Moscow Roman Kamernyi Theater, under the direction of A. Ia. Tairov, made a tour of Europe in 1925 and received a grand prix at an international exhibition in Paris. In 1928 the Leningrad Academic Choir gave concerts in Germany, Latvia, Switzerland, and Italy. The company of the E. Vakhtangov Theater performed in Paris in 1928. In 1930 the company of the V. Meyerhold Theater traveled to Germany, and that of the Kamernyi Theater made a seven-month tour through Europe and South America. In 1935 part of the company of the Bolshoi Theater presented 23 concerts in Turkey.

Foreign performing groups were welcomed with interest in the Soviet Union. The first such group to appear in the USSR was the classical Japanese Kabuki Theater, which performed in Moscow and Leningrad in 1928.

An exchange of workers’ amateur performing groups began in the second half of the 1920’s. In 1927 the Moscow group Blue Blouse made a tour of Germany. Under the influence of Soviet amateur arts, workers’ amateur performing groups were formed in various Western countries. Such groups from Germany as Red Trumpet, Alarm, and Theater of Young Actors performed in the USSR between 1929 and 1932. The International Workers’ Theatrical Association was founded in Moscow by representatives of workers’ theaters in the USSR, Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the USA. On the basis of a decision by the association, the first International Workers’ Theater Day was observed on Feb. 15, 1931, in the USSR and various Western countries. The International Olympiad of Revolutionary Theaters was held in Moscow in 1933; 26 Soviet and foreign groups took part.

The first exchange of individual performers took place shortly after the October Revolution of 1917. In the early 1920’s the German conductor O. Fried and the Hungarian violinist J. Szigeti appeared in Moscow. Foreign musicians performing in Moscow between 1923 and 1925 included the German conductors G. Brecher, B. Walter, O. Klemperer, and H. Abendroth. P. Degeyter, composer of the music to the “Internationale,” visited Moscow in 1928. Visitors to the USSR in the prewar years included the conductor L. Stokowski (USA) and the pianists B. Bartók (Hungary), A. Rubinstein (Poland), E. Petri (Germany), and A. Schnabel (Germany).

In the early 1930’s Soviet directors began receiving invitations to direct at foreign theaters. In 1931, N. Sats, in cooperation with O. Klemperer, directed a production of Verdi’s opera Falstaff at the Berlin Theater; she also directed a production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires.

Soviet theatrical and musical figures first took part in international competitions and congresses in the second half of the 1920’s. Such international events included the First F. Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1927, the Salzburg Festival in 1928, theatrical congresses in Paris in 1928 and Rome in 1930, and the competition for violinists held in Brussels in 1937.

Representatives of Soviet culture took part in the work of international organizations. In the mid-1920’s the Soviet Union joined, for example, the International Society for Contemporary Music and the World League of Artistic Organizations.

International fairs and exhibitions. At the Paris World’s Fair of 1937, 20 million people visited the Soviet pavilion. The hall devoted to art contained paintings, engravings, sculptures, models of theatrical sets, and examples of folk art; Soviet feature films and documentary films were shown in the movie theater. Performers from the Moscow Art Academic Theater and the Red Banner Song and Dance Ensemble of the Soviet Army appeared in Parisian theaters. The Soviet pavilion received about 270 awards: 95 grands prix, 70 gold medals, 40 silver medals, 6 bronze medals, and more than 50 certificates of merit. V. Mukhina’s statue The Worker and the Female Kolkhoznik and paintings by I. Brodskii, S. Gerasimov, and B. Ioganson received the highest awards.

The Soviet exhibit at the New York World’s Fair of 1939 included paintings, works of graphic art, sculptures, objects of folk art, models and sketches of theatrical sets, examples of children’s art, works of literature, and periodicals. It was seen by 16.5 million people.

World War II. World War II disrupted the USSR’s cultural ties with other countries. Interest in the USSR increased during the war. In many countries occupied by fascist German troops, organizations of friends of the Soviet Union continued their activities underground; notable examples were France, Denmark, and Belgium. The Belgian Society of Friends of the USSR published on a regular basis the bulletin Radio Moscow, with a circulation of 25,000; during the occupation 198 issues of the bulletin appeared.

The victory of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 increased the international prestige of the first socialist state and opened up new opportunities for multifaceted cooperation among countries.

In the early postwar years two factors influenced the development of Soviet cultural exchange with foreign countries. One was the policy of cold war followed by the imperialist powers, and the other was the need to concentrate funds and resources on the rapid reconstruction of the national economy.

Growing cultural cooperation among the socialist countries became an important element of world cultural life. The scale of the Soviet Union’s international cultural cooperation increased considerably in the early 1960’s with the emergence of a large group of independent African and Asian countries. Multilateral forms of cultural exchange became widespread. The USSR joined various international organizations in the 1950’s, and on Apr. 21, 1954, it became a member of UNESCO.

The policy of substantially broadening cultural relations demanded the creation of a national coordinating and planning body. From 1957 to 1967 the State Committee on Cultural Exchange With Foreign Countries of the Council of Ministers of the USSR played an important part in the development of cultural cooperation. The Union of Soviet Friendship Societies and Cultural Relations With Foreign Countries was founded in 1958 to replace VOKS.

The 1950’s saw the signing of the first long-term agreements on cultural and scientific cooperation. In 1978 the Soviet Union had intergovernmental agreements on cultural exchange with more than 80 countries.

Socialist countries. Countries of the socialist community account for more than half of all Soviet international cultural exchange. In addition to general agreements that define the bases of regulation of cultural relations, there are more than 100 agreements on particular questions of cultural cooperation, such as exchange of television and radio programs, joint production of motion pictures, and exchanges of undergraduates, graduate students, and specialists. A transition began in 1975 to five-year planning of cultural cooperation. Through the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR alone, about 15,000 representatives of Soviet culture traveled to other socialist countries between 1961 and 1965; the figure reached about 25,000 in the period 1966 to 1970 and more than 35,000 in the period 1971 to 1975.

In the postwar decades books by 1,200 citizens of other socialist countries have been published in the USSR. Of the total of 8,000 titles released, 1,400 are Bulgarian and 900 are Polish. Numerous translations of Soviet books have been published in the socialist countries.

In the period 1971 to 1975, 495 arts groups went abroad from the USSR, and 411 arts groups visited the USSR. In the same period the Soviet Union organized 413 exhibitions abroad, and 243 exhibitions were held in the Soviet Union. About 200 Soviet film festivals and film weeks took place in the other socialist countries, and about 150 in the USSR. More than 450 Soviet motion pictures were seen by a total of 160 million people in 1974.

The development of cultural exchange has been furthered by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Great October Revolution (1967), the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin (1970), the 50th anniversary of the formation of the USSR (1972), the 30th anniversary of the victory over fascism (1975), and the 60th anniversary of the Great October Revolution (1977).

One of the traditional forms taken by cultural relations between the socialist countries is the exchange of performing arts companies and individual performers. Soviet companies that have appeared in the other socialist countries include the ballet company of the S. M. Kirov Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet and the companies of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR, the Moscow Art Academic Theater, the Malyi Theater, the A. M. Gorky Leningrad Bolshoi Drama Theater, the E. Vakhtangov Theater, the T. G. Shevchenko Ukrainian Theater of Opera and Ballet, and the Central Puppet Theater. Other groups that have performed in the socialist countries include the State Folk Dance Ensemble of the USSR, the Berezka State Choreographic Ensemble, the Moldavian Zhok Folk Dance Ensemble, the Uzbek Bakhor Ensemble, the Piatnitskii State Russian Folk Choir, and the Omsk Russian Folk Choir.

Companies that have appeared in the USSR include those of the I. Vazov Bulgarian National Theater, the State Ensemble of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Budapest Opera Theater, the State Song and Dance Ensemble of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, the Cuban Folk Music Ensemble, the National Ballet of Cuba, the State Song and Dance Ensemble of the Mongolian People’s Republic, the D. Natsagdorzh Mongolian Drama Theater, the Polish Mazowsze and Slask ensembles, the I. L. Caragiale Rumanian National Theater, the Slovak National Theater, the Ljubljana Opera, and the Serbian National Theater.

Direct exchanges have been established between certain cultural institutions, such as the exchange between the Drama Theater of the Lithuanian SSR and the German National Theater in Weimar, German Democratic Republic. O. Lang, head of the Weimar Theater, and the senior artist F. Havemann presented F. Schiller’s play Love and Intrigue at the Vilnius Theater. The State Hermitage and the Dresden Picture Gallery have exchanged exhibits. Soviet cultural institutions in the mid-1970’s maintained direct exchanges with 227 theaters, museums, and libraries.

The mutual observance of days of culture has become a tradition. Leading cultural figures, well-known groups of performers, and individual performers take part in such observances. From 1970 to 1975, Soviet writers took part in more than 70 days of culture, literature weeks, and ten-day festivals in the socialist countries.

Festivals of music and drama are also held. Joint productions of stage shows and motion pictures are becoming increasingly common. Films made in cooperation with other socialist countries include Sokolovo and Tomorrow Will Be Too Late (with Czechoslovak film-makers), Remember Your Name (with Polish film-makers), The Stolen Train (with Bulgarian film-makers), and The Only Road (with Yugoslav film-makers). Exhibitions of the art of the socialist countries were held in Moscow in 1959, Warsaw in 1970, and Moscow in 1975. Other collaborative activities include the Interpress-Foto exhibitions and festivals of amateur motion pictures.

Exchanges are also developing between arts workers’ unions. They include joint sessions of secretariats and bilateral symposia on problems in the arts. Annual meetings are organized for prominent figures in film-making and publishing and for leaders of unions of writers, artists, composers, architects, and journalists. Meetings of the ministers of culture of the socialist countries were held in Budapest in 1971, Berlin in 1972, Warsaw in 1973, Havana in 1974, Bucharest in 1975, Ulan Bator in 1976, and Moscow in 1978.

Developing countries. Cultural exchange with the developing countries, which has been steadily growing in scope, has taken stable but varied forms. In cultivating ties of friendship with the developing countries, the Soviet Union implements the Leninist principle of the need to render unselfish cultural assistance to backward and oppressed peoples (see Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 120). Through its cultural exchange programs the USSR helps developing countries train specialists in various areas, revive and develop their cultures, and establish scientific and cultural institutions. In 1976 more than 100 Soviet cultural figures were working in theaters, ballet companies, and educational institutions of culture and art in the developing countries.

The exchange of performing arts groups and exhibitions plays a large part in cultural relations. Appearances have been made in the USSR by the Afghan Dy Kabul Nyndare Drama Theater and by dance ensembles from such countries as Algeria, Burma, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iraq, Laos, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Ruanda, Somali, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Zambia. Other groups that have appeared in the USSR include the National Ensemble of Senegalese Dance, the National Folklore Troupe of Mali, the Argentine folklore ensemble Baguala, the Venezuelan Piano Quartet, the Colombian National Ballet, and the Paraguayan ensemble Los Paraguayos.

Among the exhibitions held in the USSR have been the Indian National Exhibition, exhibitions of the contemporary fine art of Afghanistan, the art of Nepal, and masterpieces of Iranian art, the Egyptian exhibition “Treasures of the Tomb of Tutankhamen,” and the Iraqi exhibition “Treasures of Ancient Mesopotamia.” Other notable exhibitions have been devoted to the contemporary painting of Ethiopia, the applied art of Algeria, Guinea, and Morocco, the fine and applied art of Zaïre, Congo, and Togo, and contemporary Uruguayan engraving.

Capitalist countries. The USSR has always considered cultural exchange an important factor in peaceful coexistence among states with different socioeconomic systems.

Since the mid-1950’s all of the prominent performing arts groups of the USSR have toured in capitalist countries. In turn, many well-known foreign companies have visited the USSR, including the ballet company of the Paris Opéra and the companies of the Royal Ballet (Great Britain), the New York City Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the National Ballet of the Netherlands, and La Scala Theater of Milan. The companies of the Vienna State Opera, the Swedish Royal Opera, the Finnish National Opera, and the Comédie Française have appeared in the USSR, as have those of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (Great Britain), the Stratford Festival Theater (Canada), the Greek National Theater, the Finnish National Theater, the Norwegian National Theater, the Teatro Stabile of Sicily, and the Japanese Kabuki Theater.

Performances have been given in the USSR by the Italian Piccoli di Podrecca Puppet Theater and the Japanese Awaji Traditional Puppet Theater. Ice shows have been presented by the American Holiday on Ice and the Viennese Eis Revue.

Concerts have been given by the Royal Danish Orchestra and by symphony and philharmonic orchestras from Boston, Vienna, London, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Munich, and Strasbourg. The Rhine, Zūrich, and Stuttgart chamber orchestras, the New York Jazz Orchestra, the New York Woodwind Quartet, and the Ensemble Musica Antiqua (Vienna) have also appeared in the USSR.

Various aspects of Soviet culture have been represented by large-scale undertakings in the Western countries. In 1970 the full opera company of the Bolshoi Theater went on tour in France, the first such tour in the theater’s 200-year history. The company gave 33 performances, which were attended by a total of 75,000 persons. A festival of arts of the peoples of the USSR, “My Motherland Is a Vast Land,” was held in France in 1972. In the festival, which was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the formation of the USSR, 250 singers, dancers, and musicians from the 15 Union republics of the USSR presented the multinational art of the country.

For ten months of 1972 an exhibition of Soviet arts and crafts, containing 1,500 works of applied art from all the Union republics, toured the USA. It drew 540,000 visitors and was the subject of more than 50 broadcasts by American television stations and more than 800 articles in American newspapers and magazines. When the company of the Bolshoi Theater toured the USA in 1975, its performances were attended by more than 500,000 persons.

A festival of Russian and Soviet music took place in Great Britain in 1972. The masters of Soviet art D. Shostakovich, T. Khrennikov, and E. Svetlanov took part, together with six English symphony orchestras. About 310 works by classical Russian and Soviet composers were performed. In 1975 an exhibition of Russian and Soviet landscape painting was held in Great Britain.

The first festival of Russian and Soviet music in Japan took place in 1975. About 350 Soviet masters of musical art took part, including members of the State Symphony Orchestra of the Leningrad Philharmonic Society, under the direction of E. Mravinskii; the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of R. Barshai; the N. Osipov State Academic Russian Folk Orchestra, under the direction of V. Dubrovskii; and the A. Iurlov State Academic Russian Choir, under the direction of Iu. Ukhov. In the same year an exhibition of masterpieces of Russian and Soviet painting was held in Japan.

Soviet conductors, such as A. Sh. Melik-Pashaev, and directors, such as I. M. Tumanov, have produced Russian and Soviet operas in many foreign countries.

International cultural events. The Soviet Union attaches great importance to the development of multilateral cultural cooperation. In 1958 the USSR took part in the Brussels World’s Fair; the Soviet pavilion was visited by more than 30 million people. The USSR received more than 520 prizes and medals at the fair, including 100 in the cultural division. At the 1967 world’s fair in Montreal the Soviet pavilion was visited by 13 million people. Soviet performing arts groups and ensembles gave about 400 concerts and were heard by more than 900,000 people. About 750,000 people attended the motion-picture theater at the Soviet Pavilion. The Soviet pavilion at the Osaka World’s Fair in 1970, one-third of which was devoted to cultural exhibits, was visited by 28 million persons.

Soviet film-makers have taken part in numerous international film festivals, including festivals of feature films at Acapulco, Beirut, West Berlin, Cannes, Cartagena, Chicago, Colombo, Delhi, Karachi, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, London, Mannheim, Mar del Plata, Melbourne, Nyon, Oakland, Paris, Phnom Penh, San Francisco, San Sebastián, Stratford, Sydney, Tehran, Vancouver, Venice, and Wellington. They have taken part in festivals of short subjects and documentaries at Buenos Aires, Grenoble, Kraków, Leipzig, Montevideo, Oberhausen, Tampere, and Tours and festivals of television films at Alexandria, West Berlin, Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Prague.

Soviet film-makers have contributed to festivals of scientific and technical films in Belgrade, Budapest, Padua, and Pardubice, festivals of popular science films in Padua and Rome, festivals of independent films in Bergamo and San Remo, and festivals of films for children and young people in Palermo, Tehran, and Venice. In addition, Soviet films have been shown at festivals of animated cartoons at Annecy, Bucharest, Mamaia, and Zagreb, of science fiction films at Trieste, of medical films at Brussels, of war films at Versailles, Veszprém, and Wroclaw, of sports films at Cortina d’Ampezzo and Kranj, and of tourist films at Belgrade and Nantes. In the period from 1971 to 1975 Soviet films received 227 gold, silver, and bronze awards and certificates of merit at international film festivals.

Soviet musicians have taken part in international music competitions and have won numerous prizes, notably at the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris, the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and the F. Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Among the other festivals and competitions entered by Soviet musicians are the Prague Spring and Warsaw Autumn music festivals, music competitions in Geneva, Budapest, Vienna, and Los Angeles, vocalists’ competitions in Barcelona, Herto-genbosch, Montreal, Rio de Janiero, and Toulouse, pianists’ competitions in Budapest, Fort Worth, Leeds, Montevideo, Paris, Rio de Janiero, and Terni, violinists’ competitions in Genoa, Helsinki, Montreal, and Poznań, and conductors’ competitions in West Berlin and Rome. Soviet musicians have also taken part in competitions for cellists (Florence), wind players (Budapest), polyphonic and folk music (Arezzo), string quartets (Prague), amateur choruses (Debrecen), young conductors (West Berlin), young performers (Budapest), young singers (Toulouse), young opera singers (Sofia), young violinists (Poznań), young pianists (Paris), and youth symphony orchestras (West Berlin).

The USSR has taken part in international festivals of the arts in Avignon, Mexico City, Nice, Shiraz, and Tokyo, as well as festivals of ballet art (Helsinki and Varna), drama (Venice), television drama (Sofia), and chamber music (Plovdiv).

Among the art exhibitions in which Soviet artists have taken part are the international art exhibitions in Sāo Paulo and Venice, the exhibition of graphic arts in Krakow, and the exhibition of poster art in Warsaw.

Soviet cultural figures have helped form a number of international organizations, including the Association of Writers of the Asian and African countries (1958), the International Cartoonists Association (1958), the International Animated Film Association (1961), the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature (1967), the International Association for the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia (1973), and the International Association for the Study and Dissemination of Slavonic Cultures (1976). In 1975 the Soviet Union was active in more than 550 different international organizations.

Clear evidence of the Soviet Union’s growing role in world culture is provided by the number of international cultural events in the USSR. Some of these events, such as the P. I. Tchaikovsky International Music Competition, which has been held in Moscow every four years since 1958, have become traditional. In 1974, 204 musicians from 30 countries took part in the Fifth Tchaikovsky Competition.

The International Film Festival in Moscow has been held every two years since 1959. More than 1,000 film-makers from almost 100 different countries took part in the ninth festival in 1975.

The International Film Festival of the Countries of Asia and Africa has taken place in Tashkent every two years since 1968. At the third festival, held in 1974, 31 feature films from 29 different countries and 70 documentary films from 22 different countries were shown. In 1976 the festival was renamed the International Film Festival of the Countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The Moscow International Ballet Competition has taken place every four years since 1969. The second competition, held in 1973, had 75 entrants from 23 countries.

Major international book exhibitions were held in Moscow in 1967, 1970, and 1975. The exhibition in 1975 contained more than 25,000 books in 88 languages, published by 500 publishing houses and companies in 44 different countries, as well as by the United Nations, UNESCO, and the World Health Organization. An international book fair was held in Moscow in 1977; it was the first in a series of biennial book fairs in the city. The international exhibition “Satire in the Struggle for Peace” was held in Moscow in 1969 and 1973.

Other events have included an international festival-competition of contemporary songs for the variety stage, an international festival of young people’s political songs, a congress of the International Union of the Marionette (UNIMA), and a festival of puppet theaters. The object of such international forums is to consolidate progressive world art and to affirm the concepts of peace and humanism by cultural means.

Conclusion. For many years the USSR has led the world in the publication of translated literature. It publishes nine times as many translated books as Great Britain and four times as many as the USA. During the years of Soviet power, 28,000 works by foreign authors have been published in 76 languages of the USSR. The monthly journal Inostrannaia literatura (Foreign Literature), which contains the best works by contemporary foreign writers, has a circulation of 600,000. The literary, artistic, and sociopolitical journals Vsesvit (The Whole World) and Looming (Creativity) also contain outstanding works of contemporary foreign literature. The series Biblioteka vsemirnoi literatury (Library of World Literature) is a unique undertaking; its 200 volumes, each of which is published in 300,000 copies, include the finest literary works. The total number of copies of works of foreign literature published in the USSR approaches 1.5 billion.

In 1976, Soviet theaters presented 129 works by contemporary Western writers, including 35 American plays, 25 French plays, and 15 Italian plays. According to figures from UNESCO, the number of Western television programs broadcast in the socialist countries is three times greater than the number of programs produced in the socialist countries that are seen on Western television screens.

In the period 1966 to 1975 the USSR purchased 61 American films; American companies bought 25 Soviet films in the same period. Each year the Soviet Union buys 50 to 60 films from capitalist countries. In the years 1974 and 1975, a total of 14 new French films, ten new American films, seven new Italian films, and three new British films were made available to general audiences, in addition to films purchased earlier.

The Soviet Union consistently follows a policy of expanding and strengthening cultural exchange with all countries and peoples.



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Mozhaev, G. A. “Sotrudnichestvo gosudarstv v oblasti kul’tury.” Mezhdunarodnaia zhizn’, 1976, no. 4.

Gak, A. M. “V. I. Lenin i razvitie mezhdunarodnykh kul’turnykh i nauchnykh sviazei Sovetskoi Rossii v 1920–1924 godakh.” Voprosy istorii, 1963, no. 4.

Romanovskii, S. K. Mezhdunarodnye kul’turnye i nauchnye sviazi SSSR. Moscow, 1966.

Kuz’min, M. S. Deiatel’nost’partii i Sovetskogo gosudarstva po razviliiu mezhdunarodnykh nauchnykh i kul’turnykh sviazei SSSR (1917–1932 gg.). Leningrad, 1971.

Ioffe, A. E. Mezhdunarodnye sviazi sovetskoi nauki, tekhniki i kul’tury, 1917–1932 gg. Moscow, 1975.

Kandalov, Iu. I. Ideologicheskoe i kul’turnoe sotrudnichestvo brats kikhstran. Moscow, 1975.

Kashlev, Iu. B. Mezhdunarodnoe sotrudnichestvo i kul’turnye sviazi. Moscow, 1975.

Saakov, R. R. Mezhdunarodnoe dvizhenie obshchestvennosti za druzhbu i kul’turnye sviazi s SSSR. Moscow, 1975.

Sovetskii Soiuz na vsemirnykh vystavkakh. Moscow, 1975.

Pravda o kul’turnom obmene. Moscow, 1976.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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