Why Was Italian Music Extreamly Popular In USSR?

I love music! Music is a fantastic way to cheer you up, relieve stress, encourage, inspire, dream, fly away and just relish your life. It always brings my mood up. I listen music everywhere and at work too. I have a young girl-coworker who creates a playlist to listen at work. She is absolutely good at it. She picked up music from different cultures, languages, epochs, styles and categories. Quite often we have Spanish music day or French, etc. One day we had an Italian music day.  I found Italian playlist which was very popular in the USSR. My young coworkers were so curious and keep asking me Why Italian music was enormously famous in the USSR?

And here is my answer why… 

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 70s attitudes towards Easter started to change. People baked Easter bread, homemade cookies and painted eggs more often. “Spring” cupcakes and Easter postcards, which were officially banned from the early 1930s appeared in stores. But at the same time, the ideological pressure on believers increased. On Easter days, dance parties and entertainment programs began to be arranged in cities. On the Holy evening some very popular Western action movies and a comedy were shown on the TV. 

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

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

Italian songs became so popular that since 1984 TV started to show the full Festival. All Soviet people watched it, and this made the Festival favorite and the singers very famous! 

Since 1987, the Festival della canzone Italiana DI Sanremo has become part of Russian culture and two whole evenings have been dedicated to it. 

Sad to admit that the Sanremo Festival was shown just to distract people from attending church services on Easter night. 

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

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


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

From that time, Italian singers and songs often appeared on television and radio. Al Bano & Romina Power, Pupo, Matia Bazar, Riccardo Fogli and many others were invited to tour Moscow, Leningrad (St. Petersburg now) and different Soviet Republics. 

Listen on Spotify

I am sure my generation remembers those years and I believe that in present days Italian estrade of 70-80s is still very popular in Russia.

I still enjoy listening Italian music as well and I’m very happy that my young coworkers are obsessed with this music too. I noticed that sometimes they even sing along with the Italian singers. 

Hopefully you will enjoy it too !

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