The 1949 Chopin Year was a large-scale cultural mobilization whose purpose was to bring Chopin’s music to hundreds of thousands of Poles and to promote it around the world, all funded and overseen by Poland’s newly established Communist state. Among the most striking aspects of the Chopin Year was its extensive international programming: not only did Polish diplomatic missions convince around thirty countries to organize Chopin celebrations that paralleled those in Poland, but they targeted countries outside the Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc, despite the strictures of Stalinist-era anti-Westernism then growing across Eastern Europe. This article draws on unstudied archival sources from Polish ministries, musical institutions, and diplomatic missions to explore the historical and political forces at play in Poland’s Chopin-centered internationalism during the early Cold War. I demonstrate that cultural officials, composers, diplomats, and performers—all with varying stakes in state socialism—competed over the meaning of Chopin and his accomplishments when planning the Chopin Year. These various factions often agreed, however, on a decades-old view of the composer as both a national and an international figure, whose legacy was uniquely capable of promoting Polish causes on the global stage. By showing how the Chopin Year drew on and perpetuated a longue durée of Polish transnational contacts and discourse about the global Chopin, the article places Cold War internationalism within a longer lineage of border-crossing that had been a central aspect of European musical culture since at least Chopin’s lifetime.

You do not currently have access to this content.