Archive for the 'Commentaries' Category

Glorious Sea the Sacred Baikal: History

June 16 2010   5 Comments   Tags: folk songs, history, Lake Baikal, Siberia

Lake Baikal

In 1848, the district school superintendent of Upper Udinsk, a local historian and writer, Dmitri Pavlovich Davydov (1811-1888), wrote the poem “Thoughts of a fugitive on Baikal.” It was devoted to the fugitives from prison. In an interview, the author told the St. Petersburg newspaper Golden Fleece:

“Fugitives from factories and settlements are generally known as “passers” They are extraordinarily courageous in overcoming the natural obstacles along the way. They go across mountain ridges, through swamps, swim enormous rivers on fragments of wood, and there were some cases where they risked crossing Lake Baikal in barrels that they sometimes found on its shores.” The fugitives were supplied with bread and other items by local inhabitants, who would leave them outside of their houses at night.

The Ballad About Russian Boys: Video Commentary

January 5 2010   5 Comments   Tags: actors, history, patriotic, spacemen, WW2

Leonid Kharitonov with Russian cosmonauts

This song, originally titled “For the Sake of Future Days” was written in 1963 by the famous Russian composer Anatoly Novikov; the lyrics were written by Lev Oshanin. This performance commemorates the sacrifices and victorious achievements of Russia’s young men from the Revolution through World War II and into the Soviet space era. The presented video clip of the song (below) was made in 1966 for the New Year’s TV show.

The song begins:

Yo, heave ho!: History

December 15 2009   30 Comments   Tags: biography, concerts, folk songs, history, Volga River

Yo, Heave Ho!

“Ej, Uhnem!”, (Russian: “Эй, ухнем!”), roughly translates to “Yo, Heave Ho!” This well-known Russian folk song is also known outside of Russia as “The Song of the Volga Boatmen“. The burlaks (boatmen) first appeared in Russia in the late 16th century. A burlak was a hired laborer who walked along the bank of the river as part of a crew, dragging ships against the current with a tow rope. The work was extremely heavy and monotonous. The song became widely known thanks to its performance by the great Russian bass, Fyodor Ivanovich Shalyapin, and has since become a favorite part of the repertoire of many singers and performers, both inside and outside of Russia. The famous painting by Russian artist Ilya Repin, “Burlaks on the Volga” (shown below), was inspired by the song.

The Cliff: History

November 27 2009   16 Comments   Tags: biography, concerts, folk songs, history, The Cliff

The Cliff song

This song is about the fate of the 17th century Russian rebel, Stepan Razin. The lyrics were written in 1864 by novelist Alexander Alexandrovich Navrotsky who was also a member of Narodnaya Volya (Russian: Народная Воля), a secret revolutionary organization perhaps best known for assassinating Tsar Alexander II on March 13, 1881. The song was an anthem for revolutionaries of the late 19th and early 20th century in Russia; Lenin often sang it with his comrades-in-arms. The song is still culturally central to Russia. Leonid Kharitonov remembers:

“My solo career truly began with a concert in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses on April 22, 1965, dedicated to the 95th anniversary of Lenin, when I sang “There is a cliff on the Volga.” [Click here to listen to this performance.]

 
     
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