Targeting New Music in Postwar Europe: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Crafting of Art Music Avant-Garde Scenes

  • Anne-Sylvie Barthel-Calvet
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


Highbrow music creation has been subject to extraordinary avant-gardist blooming on both sides of the Atlantic in the wake of the World War II. This period of intense innovation has been marked by very active intervention of cultural diplomacies in a Cold War context: cultural diplomacy of the Americans (governmental and non-governmental) in Europe and of the European Allies in their occupation zones in Germany. Yet Cold War studies have examined the implication of American cultural diplomacy in the formation of European elites (Grémion, Gemelli, Berghahn, etc.), the study of its impact on highbrow music creation has often focused on the Parisian intellectual debate (Sartre, Leibowitz) at the very end of the 1950s, and more particularly on the festival organized by Nicolas Nabokov in Paris in 1952 (“L’Œuvre du XXe siècle”) as well as its Roman twin of 1954 (Carroll, Saunders, Giroud). Other studies have also focused on exchanges between musicians (Beal, Fosler-Lussier).

The interactions between worldwide, European and local Parisian strategies led by actors of the Congress for Cultural Freedom until 1967 are here considered under the angle of the concept of “scene”. It appears indeed that esthetical orientations—particularly in the scope of music creation—have taken local precedence over general cultural politics and that purely musical objectives have joined and then thrived on projects that were initially cultural diplomacy.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Sylvie Barthel-Calvet
    • 1
  1. 1.CRUHUniversité de LorraineNancy-MetzFrance

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