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BBC World Service

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Looping Swans

August 24th, 2016

Episode 1307 of 1365 episodes

When tanks rolled into Moscow on 19 August 1991 during a dramatic anti-Perestroika coup by Soviet hard-liners, the USSR’s state-controlled airwaves offered a curious response - a continuous loop of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We trace the strange and elaborate pas de deux between Tchaikovsky’s ballet classic and the Russian psyche – revealing how a work, considered a flop upon its premiere, emerged as a powerful instrument of Soviet propaganda, and later – a soundtrack that failed to disguise impending political turmoil.

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