Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Not Listed

Committee Chair

Travis Stimeling

Committee Member

Evan MacCarthy

Committee Member

Andrew Kohn

Committee Member

Kasi Jackson


This thesis situates figure skating, music, and Cold War politics during three separate Winter Olympic Games held in 1968, 1976, and 1988, examining the impact of this intersection on the sport of figure skating. Through a survey of seven Olympic medal-winning figure skating programs in the men’s and women’s single divisions and the pairs’ division, evidence of the relationship between politics and music is examined in the musical selections of the skaters’ programs. This thesis also explores the overwhelming prominence in skating programs of musical selections that appealed to the tastes of an elite majority during the Cold War, while observing which musical repertories and traditions were regularly excluded. The widespread status of art music as the unofficial soundtrack of Olympic figure skating is likely to have been a consequence of nations competing to appear as culturally erudite as possible. While this role of art music is discernable for the case studies in this thesis, it can also be shown that individual skaters or pairs used their music selections from this musical canon to relate their personal ideas. Building on existing historical scholarship on the Cold War history and on Olympic figure skating, this thesis analyzes past and contemporary trends to pose questions about music’s function as an ideological weapon of warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and other prominent countries in the past. Focusing on issues of cultural elitism, race, gender, sexuality, and class, this thesis also seeks to identify past and present tactics of inclusion and exclusion in the musical repertories associated with figure skating.

Included in

Musicology Commons