Soviet Rock and Roll

By Erik Blasic, Lauren Griswold, and Kate Sullivan

Imported from the West and combined with traditional folk and bard music, Soviet Rock and Roll demonstrates the emergence of a new generation that infused foreign with long-established artistry. The Iron Curtain and censorship attempted to keep any form of rock music out of the Soviet Union because Soviet officials feared the ability of rock to unravel communist ideals through its energy and messages embedded in its lyrics. These fears were unfounded in actual practice, but officials were still worried and wanted to protect their carefully produced propaganda machine. Soviet Rock and Roll was started through people listening to western rock and roll from records that were smuggled over or radio stations that were broadcast over the political barrier which illustrates how technology really helped Soviets to listen to rock and roll. To copy these records, people would imprint the recordings on used x-rays and share them around. Small rock and roll communities emerged, and Soviet artists began to experiment for themselves with producing their own music. These artists could not gain as much as a following as their Western counterparts because they had to stay underground, yet their music still carried messages of change. In our project, we wanted to present different bands and the reactions of “judges” to the music, lyrics, and “tusovka.”


Decembrists’ “Desperation rather than Determination”

David Saunders refers to the Decembrists on December 12th, 1825 as radiating “desperation rather than determination,” and comments on how although the Decembrists had ideas (that were not fully fleshed out and not all Decembrists agreed upon them across the board), they did not have the fortitude to succeed in establishing those ideas (Saunders 110). This feeling of desperation stems from the fact that the Decembrists felt the need for change and understood that Russia’s governmental structure needed to be altered, but it comes off of desperate because they were not unified. After the Moscow conference of 1821 and the League of Welfare split into a northern faction and southern faction, the movement struggled to have power. To topple a government, a movement needs the greatest amount of support and reliability on its members, but when members on December 12th were not wholeheartedly for revolution, instances like Baron Rozen stopping his troops on that bridge instead of encouraging them forward towards Senate Square, occur which illustrates how flimsy the Decembrists unification was. Even Saunders writes, “If the leaders had been resolute, their efforts might just have been crowned with success, for they managed to get 3,000 men on to Senate Square” (Saunders 110). The drop in members of potential Decembrists from 1820 to 1825 as the movement shifted towards radicalism shows how movements lose energy when there are schisms and the consideration of reality.

Would the Decembrists have been successful if they had assassinated the tsar instead of revolting during the unexpected time of interregnum?

How effective were the Decembrists in influencing Russia’s culture of revolution?