INTRO to Soviet/ Russian Music
Soviet music is a unique, striking, and incredibly diverse phenomenon. To this day, Soviet classics are beloved tunes both in Russia and abroad. In fact, these songs have been translated to Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Arabic and German languages, to name a few. People in India, Israel, Europe, Japan and Africa love them so much that they often tend to claim them as their own.
While very, very few of these songs, if any, are known in the USA, and generally in the West, I encourage everyone who has an interest in the Russian culture, and/or, who wants to understand the world beyond a very narrow tunnel vision they’ve been fed through school, government and media, to explore the universe of Russian and Soviet songs. You can learn a lot about someone’s culture, dreams and realities from their songs. One of the striking features of the Soviet/Russian songs was their inclusiveness. Quite often they were written and/or performed by non-Russians – representatives of one of the many different nationalities residing in the Soviet Union.
Granted, Soviet/Russian music is too huge and rich of a phenomenon to fit on one blog page. I’ll do my best to have a good representation of some beloved hits here. However, please keep in mind that I’m barely scratching the surface. I’ll be adding new songs as I unearth them on Youtube! Return to this page regularly for more gems. Enjoy!
Sport – Moscow Summer Olympics 1980
The Whole Country Is Our Stadium (with rare footage of the opening of the 1980 Moscow Olympics)
Good Bye, Gentle Misha
The legendary Moscow Olympics closing song, featuring the Olympic mascot, Mishka the Bear. Honestly, the best mascot ever. See for yourself, especially the moment when Misha sheds a tear and flies into the sky…
SONGS of the GREAT VICTORY (WWII Victory)
Contemporary version by the 10-year-old twins, sisters Tolmachevi (Winners of Junior Eurovision), 2007
Katyusha – contemporary version by Varvara
“Victory Day” – “Den Podedi”
Lev Leshchenko – “VICTORY DAY” (song of the year 1975) Лев Лещенко “День победы” Песня года – 1975 (original recording)
Contemporary version: performed on Victory Day, May 9, 2010, 65th Anniversary + lots of beautiful Russian girls – Лев Лещенко и Все Участники – День Победы
“At The Nameless Height” – “Na Bezimyannoy Visote”
Contemporary version: Aya & band “Gorod 312” – Victory Day, May 9, 2010, 65th Anniversary. Again, lots of pretty Russian girls…
“Where No Birds Sing” – “Zdes’ Ptitsi Ne Poyut” aka “We Need One Victory” – “A Nam Nuzhna Odna Pobeda”
Contemporary version, May 9, 2010 – performed by A Studio, Victory Day concert.
Singing: legendary Russian actor, Mark Bernes – Любимый город, Поет Марк Бернес – Rare original recording of a scene from the war-time classic, “Flying Aces” – “Istrebiteli”
Sings Mark Bernes – Тёмная ночь, Поёт Марк Бернес – Rare original recording of the war-time classic, “Two Warriors” – “Dva Boitsa”
“Smuglianka Moldavanka” – “Darkie”
Original version from film “Only Old Men Are Going to Battle” – “В бой идут одни старики”
Contemporary version: “Blue Scarf” – Сергей Лазарев и Юлия Савичева – Синий платочек
Contemporary version: Зара “Алеша” – Zara singing “Alyosha”
Contemporary version: Серебро – “Журавли”. Girls’ band Serebro performing “Zhuravli” – “Cranes” (subtitles in Russian/English) (2.2008)
Contemporary version: “Farewell Slavianka” (“Прощание Славянки”) subtitles in Russian/English – performed by Zara and Dmitry Pevtsov
RED ARMY CHOIR
8 min packed with goodies! Aleksandrov Red Army Choir feat at Eurovision Song Contest 2009, Moscow (HD!) Includes hits: Kalinka, Katyusha, Dark Eyes, Long Road + Russian dancing, virtuoso military drummers & “Not Gonna Get Us,” joint feat with Russian girls’ pop duo t.A.T.u
Below is a whole hour of truly epic Soviet Music by the famous Red Army Choir. This is one of the most amazing musical bands of all time, whose fame precedes them, and one of the most superb compilations of famous songs, including Katyusha, Kalinka, Sacred War, Smuglianka, and Farewell of Slavianka. The Red Army Choir is famous for their perfect technique and incredible voices, plus for their unique wave singing when volume goes up and down in perfect unison to emphasize the tune and mood changes. Includes Soviet Anthem and the Hunt for Red October theme song (not by the Red Army Choir).
Legendary song: Подмосковные Вечера – Moscow Nights, 1958. Original recording and contemporary views of Moscow
“Grass by Our Home,” band “Earthlings” – Земляне “Трава У Дома” (song about Russian space explorers), 1983
“Our dreams are not those of the space launch’s roar, nor of the ice-blue of Outer Space. We dream of the grass by our home, that green, green grass.”
Band “Samotsveti” (“Gems”) – “My Address is the Soviet Union” (САМОЦВЕТЫ, Мой адрес Советский Союз) (original recording), 1970s
“My address is not a house or a street, my address is the Soviet Union…”
“BIRD OF HAPPINESS” – band “Здравствуй, песня” – “Птица Счастья,” 1970s
The legendary Alexander Gradsky (unbelievable voice!) Legendary song: How Young We Were…” Александр Градский – Как молоды мы были, 1980s
Late 1980s – early 1990s (Pre-USSR-Collapse/Collapse era)
Two songs below are from the late 80’s, and they are still mega-popular. I was so out of the loop, and so disinterested in what was going on in the country at that time, mostly traveling abroad, that I’d missed a lot, having only discovered these, and many other songs from the pre-collapse/ collapse era while in the USA. These are nostalgic goodies, and quite addictive. Have a listen! More soon!
Vasyuta & band “Sweet Dream,” “On the White Blanket of January.” Сладкий сон – На белом покрывале января, 1980s
Yuri Shatunov, “Gray-haired Night” – ЮРА ШАТУНОВ-Седая ночь, 1980s (from recent Disco 1980s Nostalgia concert)
Hit Songs From Blockbuster Films/Series (historic, dramas, thrillers)
A word about music in Russian/Soviet films. Soviet films were famous for their songs. As a rule, each film always included at least 1-2 REALLY great songs, which invariably became huge hits. And no wonder – these songs were simply smashing! See for yourself!
My Street – a very nice song from the movie Spring on River Street, 1956. Улица родная – Весна на Заречной улице. I posted the whole movie here.
“Где-то далеко” Штирлиц встреча с женой – “Somewhere Far Away” – (Schtirlitz is meeting with his wife) from mega-hit series “Seventeen Moments of Spring” (Semnadtsat Mgnovenii Vesni) about a Soviet spy in Nazi Germany who derails clandestine Nazi plans of unilateral surrender in 1945. (Fact: I was little at the time and I remember how when this series was on, streets became instantly empty as everyone was glued to their TVs. Thieves could have a field day, since all police were also watching. However, somehow no burglaries were ever reported because – guess what – all thieves were glued to their screens as well! P.S. Generally, in USSR crime was almost non-existent.)
Somewhere Far Away – lyrics: “At least for a little while, my pain, I beg of you – leave me! As a cloud, a gray cloud, you fly to my home, from here to my ancestral home. My shore, appear far away, as a glimpse, as a thin line! My shore, my loving shore, I wish I could swim to you, reaching you for once in my life.”
Contemporary version of this song: “Somewhere far Away,” performed by Leonid Agutin (Leonid Agutin – Где-то далеко (Ya proshu). It’s a contemporary interpretation, very different from the original, yet it manages to convey the entire life and a huge range of emotions in 5 short minutes, just like the original did. By the way, the woman in the clip is Agutin’s real life wife, singer, Angelika Varum.
“Не обещайте деве юной..” “Don’t Promise a Young Maiden…” an absolutely divine song from the divine film, “The Captivating Star of Happiness” (“Zvezda Plenitelnogo Schastya”), about a group of nobles who rebelled in 1825 against serfdom in Russia. When they were sent to Siberia, their pampered wives left posh St.Petersburg behind and followed them into exile.
More songs soon – as soon as I am able to find them! Stay tuned!
Famous Songs from Beloved Soviet Comedies
Soviet comedies are famous the world over. I have a great collection of these gems at home. In fact, in my household we have a tradition to watch Soviet comedies every New Year’s. Songs from these movies are no less famous and equally awesome. They are coming soon – stay tuned!
Famous Songs from Hit Soviet Children’s Movies
Gorgeous song: “A Beautiful Far Away” – from blockbuster YA/children’s sci-fi series “Guest from the Future” (Гостья из будущего – Прекрасное Далеко)
“Red Riding Hood’s Song” (Песня Красной Шапочки) from children’s movie “Red Riding Hood.” Soviet version is very, very loosely based on the original fairytale. In fact, the Soviet Red Riding Hood is an adventurous spirit and courageous soul, who helps those in need, who fights injustice and who possesses a cheeky kind of wisdom that allows her to teach others lessons and right the wrongs. Great movie for kids and adults!
“Second Star Gazer’s Song” from “Red Riding Hood” (Вторая песня звездочета-Красная шапочка)
World Famous Songs from Russian Children’s Cartoons
Soviet Russian cartoons – Russkie multiki – are famous the world over. Unlike in Hollywood, with a very small budget, Russian artists managed to create great, everlasting miracles that taught the young generation kindness, friendship, reason and true values. Those of us who grew up on such multiki still watch them to this day. The Russian cartoon phenomenon has a technical, internationally recognized, term: “dobrie multiki,” which means “the kind cartoons.” High energetic vibration of these cartoons, brilliant artistry, kindness, humor, plus amazing songs, guarantee their continued success and popularity for years to come. However, unfortunately these “kind cartoons” seem to be a lost art, as no contemporary artist is able to replicate them. It appears such cultural achievement was only possible in the Soviet Union, with its unique atmosphere and special approach to art.
Songs from “the kind Russian cartoons” coming!
My articles about Russian history, culture, childhood memories – awesome pics! Includes posts ab. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Lake Baikal, Siberia.
Listen to: Contemporary Russian Music
Don’t miss! Raising Chi Against Hatred: The Suppressed Story of Russian Songs that Unite World Cultures
New: Russian Dance
New: Russian resources and articles
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Hi Lada. I’ve finally found a person who combines spirituality, geo politics and appreciation for Soviet and Russian culture and history. Your website is a godsend and I’ve really loved your talks on Plane Truth and your podcasts. What better example of the great Soviet culture than to have their armed forces perform such wonderful music in the Red Army Band and Chorus. One point you shouldn’t forget regarding music. I’m a lover of classical music and the greatest composers of the 20th century were the three giants of Soviet music, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khatchaturian. In fact they wrote the musical scores to very famous films. Prokofiev wrote the score to Alexander Nevsky which the music by itself is a stand-a-lone classic. Shostakovich composed the Symphony No. 7 dedicated to the city of Leningrad when the city was under a brutal siege for 900 days during World War II. In my humble opinion I think it’s the greatest piece of music ever written.
I think you’re a wonderful person and I’m giving you a standing invitation to stay at our home anytime you’re in the southern California area. My family would love to meet you.
Lada Ray said:
Thank you for the wonderful comment. I am very happy you enjoy my blogs and my work.
A great mini-summary of the latest Russian classic music, too.
The only reason I didn’t have it on my page was because people all over the world already know the classics, but they aren’t really familiar with the Russian songs.
But perhaps, I’ll include them in the future.
Thank you for your gracious invitation. 🙂
Very delightful music. The victory song on May 9 to celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany is really such uplifting music and it’s wonderful to see all the young people celebrating this day. It really shows you what a complete opposite culture you have in Russia compared to the US and UK with their nihilistic performers such as Madonna and Lady Gaga and with satanic symbols at their performances. You could really see the western culture and system as a dying one descending into hell while in Russia and Eurasia you have a modern culture combined with beautiful tradition. I noticed that Russia has really modernized its traditional music with much more visual appeal using beautiful and sexy women and state of the art lighting and computerization. In some of the videos the women are really pretty and wear clothes that definitely show off their physique but never performing vulgar sexual moves like you see in western performers. Their beauty just enhances the message that the singer is singing and makes the whole performance more appealing. I thought it was great to see the Red Army Band performances also updated to a modern and young audience which really helps to continue their popularity as a national treasure. It sure was a helluva lot different than the last time I saw them here in the Los Angeles area in the 1970’s.
A couple of great Soviet movies to recommend are Ballad of a Soldier and Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears. Be sure to have a Kleenex box nearby when you finish with Ballad of a Soldier.
I forgot to mention that my two favorite pieces were Farewell Slavianka sung by the man and woman and Victory Day song at the May 9,2010 festivities. The man and woman are really terrific actors and with powerful voices. What can I say about Victory Day song at that event but really inspiring seeing all the young people singing together and honoring the victory over Nazi Germany. Such joy and happiness. I can’t stop watching that event. By the way I can’t get that damn song out of my head. I wake up in the middle of the night with that tune. I’ll have to go to the local chapter of Soviet Songs Anonymous to kick the addiction! Actually many of the Russian and Soviet songs are really addictive and exhilirating. I’m looking forward to next year’s May 9 celebration. It should be a humdinger of an event. It will be 70 years of Victory Day.
Lada Ray said:
I like that performance too. 🙂
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Wow, bolshoe spasibo for putting together this list!! It took a couple of days (listening while making dinner) but I listened to every song here. Now on to the Contemporary Russian Music list : )
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Jamy Russell said:
Wow, that’s an impressive list! Thanks a lot!