This video represents an interview of Leonid Kharitonov (the famous Russian opera singer) for the BBC Radio 3 channel. This conversation took place in December 2011 via international telephone connection.
Archive for the 'Memories' Category
August 14 2016 5 Comments Tags: Alexandrov Ensemble, biography, concerts, folk songs, interviews, Radio Programs, The Cliff
Leonid Kharitonov gives an interview in a TV show entitled “Secrets of the Kremlin Concerts” (March 5, 2014.) He tells about his first solo performance in 1965, which he gave at a concert for Leonid Brezhnev and the Soviet leadership on the occasion of Lenin’s 95th anniversary. We’ve added English subtitles to the video.
It might seem a kitsch throwback to the days when music was an essential weapon in the Soviet armoury, but the Red Army Choir still sets the benchmark for military music-making some 80 odd years since it was founded. Now known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, the company of singers, players and dancers still tours the world as a cultural envoy of the Russian state. Aled Jones uncovers the history of the group, from its first glory years when it performed a vital role in promoting culture amongst the members of the Soviet military. He follows it through the Second World War when it gave an astounding 1500 concerts to motivate the troups, and then the post-war years when it had to re-invent itself as a vehicle for national pride across the world despite political resistance to its concerts in the West.
“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.
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.]