I did find the sentimental & patriotic Estonian newspaper advertisement that probably triggered my interest some time back: https://www.facebook.com/postimees/videos/2295799327177193/
Sweden > Russia
Estonian language newspaper, poetry
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Russian ".In the years to come choir singing remained the only cultural activity in Estonian as the Russian emperor required all official matters and education to be handled in Russian."
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Russian revolution of Feburary 1917; leads to Estonian Provisional Government & autonomy; Czar Nicholas abdicated on 2 March 1917.
5 November 1917, (2 days before Lenin’s Bolshevik revolution in Russia) coup d’état, Estonian Bolshevik leader Jaan Anvelt violently usurped power. The execution of the Romanov family at the hands of Bolsheviks followed in 1918.
Germans landed on the mainland of Estonia on February 18, 1918; Estonian independence declared 24 February 1918. Germans occupied Tallinn on the 25th. After the German Revolution, between 11 and 14 November 1918, the representatives of Germany formally handed over political power in Estonia to the national government.
The departure of German troops left a void and the Russian Bolshevik troops moved in.:19 The Estonian War of Independence followed. (1918-1920) ensued on two fronts: the newly proclaimed state fought against Bolshevist Russia to the east and against the Baltic German forces (the Baltische Landeswehr) to the south. On 2 February 1920, the Peace Treaty of Tartu was signed by the Republic of Estonia and Bolshevist Russia. The Republic of Estonia obtained international recognition and became a member of the League of Nations in 1921.
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the first Celebration in independent Estonia on a permanent stage in Tallinn, that could fit 12 000 singers. The first aerial photograph and the first film of the celebration were shot
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Authoritarian regime in Estonia, Nazis in power in Germany
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Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact One of the main conditions posed by Hitler to Stalin in August 1939 was the prior transfer of all ethnic Germans living in Estonia and Latvia to areas under German military control. These became known as the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. (1 September 1939 Poland invasion ) Stalin proceeded to set up Soviet military bases in Estonia and Latvia in late 1939.
1946 first larger Estonian Song Celebrations were held in Germany, later in Sweden, USA, Canada, Australia, UK.
The cultural watchdogs within the Soviet government harnessed the pre-Soviet Baltic choral tradition. “The song festival’s image of an entire nation singing in unity was as appealing to Stalin as it had been to the organizers of the prewar festivals” (p. 146). Šmidchens describes the late Stalinist period as the ideological hijacking of the content of Baltic culture, including the singing festivals, whose postwar reemergence now included the standard Soviet fare of Stalinist hero-worship and the glorification of the revolution, the party, and the all-powerful Soviet state itself. — HERE
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Gustav Ernesaks 1944 he wrote the music to “Mu isamaa on minu arm” to the lyrics of Lydia Koidula while deported to Russia. — In 1950 another wave of Soviet repressions included Song Celebration artistic directors Alfred Karindi, Riho Päts and Tuudur Vetik.
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Soviet propaganda songs dominated the repertoire; choirs of Soviet miners and army were among the participants. During the dark era of Soviet oppression choir singing remained one of the few areas where private initiative and trust were still present. It helped to keep the longing for freedom alive. In spite of the schizophrenic situation most Estonians held the Song Celebration dear as the most important national event. // Preparation of a plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Estonian SSR as grandly as possible began early, but changes were made until the last minute. Only two of the five guides to the 1947 party could attend the song festival 3 years later, as Riho Päts, Tuudur Vettik and Alfred Karindi were arrested and sent to prison camp.
Stalin’s death in 1953
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...nor does he examine at great length the armed resistance waged within all three Baltic nations against the postwar Soviet regime. Indeed, while the Baltic Way and the Singing Revolution form proud chapters in each of the three countries’ contemporary national narratives, they are equally proud of the “Forest Brothers” and similar partisan groups who waged a desperate guerrilla war well into the 1950s. — HERE
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1960– the new Song Festival Stage by architect Alar Kotli was built. Before the concert “Mu isamaa on minu arm” was removed from the programme, however choirs started to sing it spontaneously and after a moment’s hesitation Ernesaks climbed up to the conductor’s stand and started to conduct. Since then the song is the most anticipated and “compulsory” finale of the celebration.
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XVII Song Festival
celebrated the first centennial of the song celebrations with the flame being lit for the first time in Tartu, the birthplace if the celebrations and carried through Estonia to Tallinn. The repertoire was a lot more traditional compared to the Soviet propaganda filled celebrations before and after. “Koit” (Dawn) by Mihkel Lüdig became the traditional opening song.
In 1972 exile Estonians organized the first ESTO with a worldwide Estonian Song celebration at its focus in Toronto, Canada. Estonian dissidents sent a letter to the United Nations demanding the restoration of independence. In the end of 1970s Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, many Estonians were drafted.
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In MAY 1988 Alo Mattiisen’s “Five Patriotic Songs” were performed at Tartu Pop Music Days; in June 1988 the singing revolution started at Tallinn Song Festival grounds. > 100,000 Estonians gathered for five nights to sing protest songs until daybreak. <, in the end there were many hundred thousand people.Mattiisen's "Five Patriotic Songs" were performed again at the Rock Summer festival in Tallinn held on 26–28 August 1988 In August 1989 two million people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands in 600 km long human chain to protest the soviet occupation of their countries.
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1990– the Song Celebration although formally still in the Soviet Union was carried by traditional symbols and repertoire. The concert finished with “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” – the former and current Estonian anthem that was banned by the soviets. // In a changed political environment, the song festival was very different from the parties of previous decades. The program, free of ideological compulsive repertoire, contained a great deal of patriotic and sacred works, some of which had been included in the list of prohibited works until recently.
Anti-independence demonstrators attacked the Parliament buildings in Estonia and Latvia Tuesday, and officials in the Estonian capital said the government was under siege for three hours by 5,000 people in what was called a coup attempt.
From January to August 1991, Soviet special forces units targeted Baltic border posts, killing border guards in brutal displays of power, but they failed to provoke a violent response from the Baltic publics and governments. // In January 1991, fourteen unarmed civilians died in Vilnius; five perished in Riga. During the spring, Soviet forces attacked Lithuanian customs offices, at one point executing captured Lithuanian border police in cold blood…. Baltic leaders and their people refrained from answering violence with violence, despite the inclusion of lyrics in many songs that promised such retaliation….“Had vengeful emotions taken hold” among the Baltic peoples, he writes, “the Singing Revolution would have ended, and war begun” (p. 305) — HERE
On 20 August 1991, Estonia declared formal independence during the Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow, reconstituting the pre-1940 state. / TV tower siege /
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In 2003 Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebrations were listed as UNESCO oral and intangible heritage. In 2004 Estonia joined the EU and NATO.
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“Here I’ll Stay” Youth Song and Dance Celebration was a chance for young people to join the nearly 150-year tradition. All participants and most composers and conductors were “children of freedom” – many born in or after 1991, the year Estonia regained independence. It was fascinating to see the young energy and their dedication to keep their heritage alive, adjusting and defining it in a new fresh way.
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Some articles regarding the revolution(s):