The Introduction outlines a historical and cultural framework for musical fusion projects in Central Europe, specifically Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria, between 1989 and 2008. It argues that such projects participate in a regional artistic heritage of stylistic virtuosity and social critique. It describes how Central Europeans treat some of their own world music, folk music, and ethnojazz as high or “serious” art, while in Western Europe, world music is part of the popular music industry. The Introduction argues that the Central European projects are experiments in economic independence and in ethnic inclusion stemming from the region’s history of war, exclusion of Romani (Gypsy) and Jewish minorities, and transition to neoliberal capitalism. The Introduction discusses artistic precedents of the 1970s and 1980s, and delineates aspects of the sociopolitical atmosphere for the arts in Central Europe between 1989 and 2008.
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