Warm Encounters in the Cold War

A look behind the Iron Curtain - 1960 and 1962

In retrospect, Margaret Ann Ireland describes her Cold War concerts in the 1950s and 1960s, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, as the most significant experiences of her concert career.

The American Cultural Relations Commission approached her first, inviting her to give recitals in February 1952 for German audiences in Amerika Haus buildings which they had established in cities throughout West Germany. The British Council followed suit, arranging recitals in 1955, and again in 1957, in their centres called die Brucke (the Bridges) for West German audiences.  (These tours were entirely separate from her commercially managed concerts in Europe.)

The Ministry of Culture in the Soviet Union invited Margaret Ann Ireland for two tours in 1960 and 1962. Arranged by Goskonzert, the State Concert Agency, Margaret Ann performed in recitals and concerto performances with orchestras in seven of the fifteen Soviet Republics. These were the most extensive tours in the USSR given by any North American musician at that time.  She performed in Moscow and Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) in the Russian Republic, as well as cities in Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Margaret Ann Ireland later described these tours as the most fulfilling because she was doing what she loved best; "communicating with audiences on a world stage, and contributing in a very small way to fostering human relations through music in our divided world."

Margaret Ann Ireland in recital at The Great Hall, Moscow Conservatoire
Moscow, April 23, 1960

Backstage with eminent Soviet pianist, Emil Gilels, 1960


With conductor Ohan Dourian in Vilnius, Lithuania 1960

Sharing a moment with students, Moscow 1960


Celebrating with musicians at a party, Tbilisi, Georgia 1962


Concert Program for Margaret Ann Ireland at the 
Great Hall of the
Leningrad State Philharmonija, Leningrad, April 5, 1960