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a cycle of concerts and performances united by a common name and program and held under particularly festive conditions. Music festivals vary in content and duration from several days to six months. They may be monographic (devoted to the music of one composer) or thematic (devoted to a particular genre, period, or style), or they may feature performing arts. The festivals are organized by state and local authorities and philharmonic and music societies. In the capitalist countries, they are also organized by firms and individuals. They are held regularly (annually or once every two to four years) or in connection with a ceremonial event. Most of them take place in cities renowned for their musical traditions or associated with the life and careers of well-known musicians.
Music festivals originated in Great Britain (London, 1709) and were first associated with church music. In the second half of the 18th century they began to be held in many central European countries, particularly Germany. They became popular in the 20th century, especially in the mid-1940’s. The largest of them promote music and the development of cultural ties between nations. At the same time, a number of music festivals in the bourgeois countries are elitist and remain inaccessible to broad circles of the population because of high ticket prices. Some festivals are held for publicity to attract tourists.
Among the most famous music festivals are the Salzburg Festival and the Festival Weeks of the City of Vienna (Austria), the Prague Spring and the Bratislava Music festivals (Czechoslovakia), the Danish Royal Music Festival, Sibelius Week (Finland), the Besançon Festival (France), the Berlin Festival Days (German Democratic Republic), the Glyndebourne and Edinburgh festivals (Great Britain), the Budapest Musical Weeks (Hungary), the Musical May at Florence and the Festival of the Two Worlds (Italy), the Netherlands Music Festival, the Warsaw Autumn (Poland), the Georges Enesco Festival (Rumania), International Festival Week (Switzerland), and the Dubrovnik Summer Games and Ohrid Summer (Yugoslavia).
In the 1960’s and 1970’s variety stage art and music festivals have become popular, particularly in Europe, where there are more than 150 of them (1973).
In the USSR the first music festivals were held in the 1930’s in Leningrad. Festivals became very widespread in the late 1950’s. In 1957 festivals of the Soviet music of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, as well as the Transcaucasian Spring Festival, were organized. Since 1962 the All-Union Contemporary Music Festival (the first of its kind in the USSR) has been held in Gorky. Since 1964 the Moscow Stars and the Russian Winter festivals have been held in Moscow, and the White Nights Festival in Leningrad. There are many other music festivals at the all-Union, republic, and local levels.
M. M. IAKOVLEV