Why Was Italian Music Extreamly Popular In USSR?

I love music! Music is an excellent way to lift your spirits, relieve stress, encourage, inspire, dream, fly away, and simply enjoy life. It always improves my mood. I listen to music everywhere, including at work. 

I have a young girl at work who creates a playlist for us to listen to. She is absolutely good at it.  

Usually, she picked up music from different cultures, languages, epochs, styles, and categories. Quite often we have Spanish music day, French music days, and so on.  

One day we had an Italian music day. I found an Italian playlist that was very popular in the Soviet Union. Everyone enjoyed the songs, which were wonderful and very lyrical.

My young coworkers were so curious and kept asking me why Italian music was so popular in the USSR.  

And here is my answer:

Sign on the poster: Fight against religion! Struggle for socialism!

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviet government tried to weaken the influence of the Church. The Bolsheviks attempted to fight religion by organizing lectures where they spoke negatively about Orthodox holidays and traditions. Anti-religious concerts and carnival parades were also held during the holidays. It was arranged on purpose, just to distract young people from the church’s ceremonies. 

In the early 1970s attitudes toward Easter celebration started to change. People baked Easter bread, cookies, and painted eggs more often. “Spring” cupcakes and Easter postcards, which had been officially prohibited since the early 1930s, began to appear in stores. But at the same time, the ideological pressure on believers increased. On Easter days, cities began to organize dance parties and entertainment programs. On the Holy Evening, some very popular Western action movies and a comedy were shown on television.

Millions of Soviet people were captivated by musical performances and absolutely fell in love with Italian music. I always watched Festival della canzone Italiano di Sanremo (Italian song festival of Sanremo). 

The first several of the festival’s songs appeared on TV in 1982, as a part of the program “Melodies and Rhythms of Foreign Estrade.”

Since 1984, when television began broadcasting the entire Festival, Italian songs have become extremely popular in the USSR. Everyone in the Soviet Union watched it, and this made the Festival favorite and the singers very famous! 

After 1987, the Festival della Canzone Italiana DI Sanremo became a part of Russian culture, with two entire evenings dedicated to it.

Sad to say, the Sanremo Festival was only shown to divert attention away from church services on Easter night.

From 1994 to 1998 the Sanremo Festival was presented in shorter versions. 

The Italian Song Festival returns to television only in 2013: it was a live broadcast for five evenings! Toto Cutugno performs with the Red Army Chorus.


Les Choeurs de l’Armée Rouge Alexandrov & Toto Cutugno – L’Italiano

Italian singers and songs began to appear on television and radio more often. Al Bano & Romina Power, Pupo, Matia Bazar, Riccardo Fogli, and many others were invited to tour Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg now), and various Soviet Republics.

Listen on Spotify

I’m sure my generation remembers those years, and I believe the Italian estrade of the 1970s and 1980s is still very popular in Russia today.

I still enjoy listening to Italian music, and I’m thrilled that my young coworkers are as well. I’ve noticed that they occasionally sing along with the Italian singers.

Hopefully you will enjoy it too !

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