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Fluxus concert

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Date: Spring 1966

Participants: Vytautas Landsbergis (1932) and his students at the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute

Organizer: Vytautas Landsbergis

Location: Vilnius Pedagogical Institute

In the 1960s, the musicologist Vytautas Landsbergis corresponded with his childhood friend, artist and initiator of the Fluxus movement George Maciunas. Maciunas laid out the ideas of this anti-art movement in his letters, and sent Landsbergis recordings of his favorite music and Fluxus performances, as well as Fluxus scores. Landsbergis used this material in his public lectures on modern music.

In 1966, Landsbergis organized a Fluxus concert at the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute, where he taught at the time, together with the institute’s senior students (around 20). The event started with the New Music manifesto written and read by Landsbergis. The program of the concert that lasted for approximately 30 min. was comprised of the instructions sent by Maciunas, complemented with Landsbergis’s own ideas; Landsbergis also created the wall decorations that reflected the Fluxus spirit and set the atmosphere for the concert. Although this avant-garde movement did not take on in Lithuania (the mentioned concert remains the only notable Fluxus event), the dissemination of the ideas of Fluxus and modern music via Landsbergis’s lectures contributed to the emergence and spread of modern art forms.

Documents:

Vytautas Landsbergis: A Manifesto (1966)

Vytautas Landsbergis – interview: Fluxus in Vilnius (2007)


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Performances at unofficial avant-garde music festivals in Riga

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Date : April 1976–October 1977

Location: Latvian Art Academy hall and the student club of the Polytechnic Institute in Anglican Church, in Riga

Participants and organizers: Alexei Lubimov, et. al.

The first significant experience of contemporary music for musically conservative Riga was the concert series “Twentieth-Century Music” by Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov during the 1975/76 season. Although the series was banned, architecture student Hardijs Lediņš and violinist Boriss Avramecs encouraged Lubimov to play his intended program at an unofficial festival. Its culmination was a concert at the Art Academy, where Riga and Moscow musicians performed works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, and others. There were also performance elements presented by the musicians and selected audience members, as well as a happening after the second part of the concert with spontaneous improvisations, provocative acts, and absurdity. “It was fun but it ended in scandal, because it broke all the rules and notions about high-minded art,” recalled Avramecs[1].

The festival also took place the following year, officially sanctioned as “The Days of Music” dedicated to music by contemporary Soviet composers and the sixtieth anniversary of the Great October Revolution. But hidden under the acceptable name were works by avant-garde Soviet composers, including Vladimir Martinov’s Easter Cantata, which was not part of the approved program. Deemed to be “religious propaganda,” this work served to justify the state’s repression of the musicians and organizers and a complete ban on playing similar music, either officially or unofficially.


[1] An interview with B. Avramecs in May, 2011.


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Kosmoss Disco-Lectures

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Date: Late 1970s–early 1980s

Organizer: Hardijs Lediņš

Location: “Oktobris”, the Construction Workers’ House of Culture, Riga

In the mid 1970s, architecture student Hardijs Lediņš organized a series of disco-lectures in the Polytechnical Institute’s student club. At the time, the discotheque was a new entertainment phenomenon in Soviet Latvia, a “sociocultural product” from the West that introduced people to popular Western music. Lediņš occasionally spiced up his discos by sharing his views on contemporary music—during the first half of each event he gave a lecture, then played recordings.

In collaboration with stage designer Leonards Laganovskis and musician Mārtiņš Rutkis, Lediņš continued the disco-lectures at the “Kosmoss” experimental discos held in the Construction Workers’ House of Culture, Oktobris. In between educational and entertaining repertoire he presented various subjects, such as architecture, or readings of his own poetry. Avant-garde soloists and bands from Riga improvised on stage. Important for the experience were the visual effects and use of multimedia, which featured slide projections with texts and photographs and special stage and room decorations.

The discos signaled Lediņš’s movement towards sound and multimedia experiments and his creation of the Restoration Workshop of Unfelt Feelings, one of the most interesting phenomena in avant-garde art in 1980s Latvia.


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