This article examines how the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music facilitated mobility across socialist borders in the 1960s. The Warsaw Autumn was one of the most important zones of cross-border cultural contact during the Cold War, for its eclectic programming featured musical works and performers from both the Soviet and American zones of cultural, political, and economic influence. The article demonstrates that the festival enabled multiple connections to form across socialist borders. Some of these were top–down, international contacts among socialist state institutions, which resulted in carefully curated performances of cultural diplomacy that tended to reinforce prevailing notions of East–West opposition. Other connections involved informal, personal ties that facilitated the transnational circulation of musical modernism throughout the socialist bloc. The article proposes that the Warsaw Autumn's advocacy of modernist music by unofficial Soviet composers exposed and encouraged the development of cultural affinities that challenged the socialist bloc's presumptive hierarchies while also mitigating the Cold War's broadly drawn divisions between East and West. The article further suggests that the significance of mobility at the Warsaw Autumn in the 1960s depended on the continued fixity of borders in other areas—between states, the Cold War's geopolitical regions, and contrasting musical styles.
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