In the Estonia Kaie Tanner grew up in, learning Russian at school was compulsory, and her mother and her friends often sang 'forbidden songs' at home – Estonian folk songs that the Soviet authorities disapproved of. Music was a huge part of her life, but she didn't expect that it could help her country win independence. But in 1987, when Kaie Tanner attended the massive Estonian Singing festival as a teenager, something unexpected happened. After the officially sanctioned event had finished, the hundreds of thousands of Estonians stayed and kept singing their own Estonian folk songs all through the night – and the Soviet authorities were powerless to stop them.
What was the Singing Revolution? How did it lead to the independence of Estonia and the other Baltic states? Was it possible for Estonia's Russian- and Estonian-speaking citizens to finally move on from past resentments? Find out in this episode of The Final Curtain.
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[02:07] A childhood in Soviet-dominated Estonia
[06:27] How Estonians tried to sing their country into independence
[10:01] Was the USSR military intervention successful?
[12:38] Independence! Kaie becomes a music teacher
[14:53] A country comprised of two peoples
Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak
Edited by Adam Zulawski
Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
This episode was produced with help from the Embassy of Poland in Tallinn. We'd like to extend many thanks to Ambassador Grzegorz Kozłowski, who kindly greenlighted our co-operation, and to Sławomira Borowska-Peterson, who helped us understand Estonian history, society and reality much better.