Play and Pay: The Ill-Starred Project of the Municipal Tax on Musical Instruments in Prague, 1910–1913
Utilising archival documents and the press, this article scrutinises aspects of the connections between local government, taxation and domestic music in Prague, 1910–1913; of all the European tax initiatives on musical instruments, the Prague one was the most ambitious and comprehensive. The administration aimed at raising considerable revenues and lessening the disturbance from music by taxing pianos, harmoniums, gramophones and orchestrions in inns and private homes. The initiative included an inventory of musical instruments, after which the officials began drafting the tax law. The press published on the inventory and planned tax measures, and several interest groups from the music and restaurant business submitted appeals to the city’s representative bodies. Some interest groups cooperated and cleverly exploited public opinion, forcing the city fathers to remove the tax from the agenda of the public sitting of the City Assembly. The initiative was doomed in several respects, including its unrealistic schedule, excessive complexity and lack of clarity.
Copyright (c) 2023 Risto Pekka Pennanen
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