Fighting “Avant-Guarde Dictatorship”: Bulgarian Communist Party’s Kernel Organization as a Parallel Power Center inside the Union of the Bulgarian Composers 1965 – 1969

The period 1966 – 1969 in the UBC (Union of the Bulgarian Composers) features a unique situation of two-pronged power structures: on one hand, liberalization towards New Music events in the Secretariat’s administrative politics and the Presidium of UBC; and on the other, the restored primary party organization embedded in the UBC as a second center of power – striving to “restore” ideological control. In these three years UBC’s primary party organization discusses and decides matters that would bind BCP (Bulgarian Communist Party) members only, and has to remain unknown to the non-party members, i.e. it functions in secrecy… And so, the “thaw”, having been supported through UBC’s administrative structure, not lacking BCP members, has its opposing “power center” – the kernel party organization. In 1968 its decisions and actions lead to a turnabout, restoring the social realism framework and creation of the Bulgarian avant-garde concept – an epigone of the Western avant-garde, the one trying to divert Bulgarian music on the path of “ideological insurgence”.

The second establishment of the primary party organization of the UBC tasked with special functions in the period of 1966 – 1969 and after 1968 – 1968 is unique, compared to the other creative art unions. In the Union of the Bulgarian Writers (UBW) and the Union of the Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ), these party structures have been active after 1949, especially in the UBW. The party organization’s activity in the UBC had faded away by 1965. The most important year is 1968 but the crucial document is missing: the report and transcript of the party meeting in November 1968, entitled: “The essence of the West European Avant-Guarde and its Reflection in Bulgarian Music.” At the very beginning of the exploration of the newly restored UBC party organization (1966), we face the “shadow of conspiracy”, with the main document missing, regarding the restoration of social realism in 1968.


Keywords: aesthetics; music and politics; New Music; socialist realism; ideology and aesthetics under Communism