From a contemporaneous review
“Although there were a great many submissions (more than eight hundred, in fact, from which seventy-two works were chosen), most of the entries represented the same national sections, and Western European traditions, from which ISCM membership has been traditionally drawn. Attempts to solicit music from composers outside that circle–from China or the then-Soviet-Union, for example–were not terribly productive. Furthermore, a number of selected works, including some of the most ambitious ventures involving extensive performing forces, were cancelled for economic reasons. (Yes, funds are apparently tight even in prosperous Switzerland.) …
“[T]he festival program booklet notes that ‘many compositions could not be accepted for reasons of quality.’ One wonders, in retrospect, whether ‘quality’ was being defined broadly, as befits the World Music Days stated theme, or from the narrow standpoint of art music. In only a very few instances could the influences of jazz, rock, commercial music- or, at a different extreme, the simple, monophonic directness of folksong- be found in works on the Zurich programs. The ‘borders’ being ‘broken’ were geographic rather than socio-economic, and largely limited to classical concert music.”
–Elliott Schwartz, “Zürich ISCM 1991,”
Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter 1992), p. 305.