5 legendary Russian songs that people know and sing all over the world
Each of the following songs has an interesting backstory and is well-known both in Russia and outside its borders. Check out the list and if you think anything is missing, write a comment.
5 Podmoskovnye Vechera
“Подмосковные вечера” (Moscow nights) is one of the best known Russian songs abroad. Originally, it was called Leningrad Nights but the title was changed after it was used for a documentary. At first, the song was not particularly popular but suddenly – and much to the surprise of those who wrote it – the USSR couldn’t get enough of it. Soon after it started making waves abroad when young American pianist Van Cliburn (who won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958) became a symbol of the thaw in Russian-American relations at the time. This song is surprisingly really well-known in China. There is a Chinese version of it that people know very well and like to sing.
Today there are reports that the song was written by Ivan Larionov about 150 years ago. The song’s popularity in Russia and abroad is explained by the fact that it is included in the repertoires of many different music groups. The popularity of the song is so great that the title “Kalinka-Malinka” has become a common name of Russian restaurants abroad.
Valenki is traditional Russian winter footwear, essentially felt boots: the name valenok literally means “made by felting”.
Here is the translation of the “Valenki” song into English. Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn You are now unwearable And so I can’t go out to see my sweetheart Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Oh, you Kolya, Kolya, Nikolai, sit at home and don’t go out Don’t go to that end of the street, and don’t give rings to the girls Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Valenki valenki Instead of bringing presents, you’d better patch up your valenki Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Both God and people are witnesses to my love I went barefoot through the frost to my sweetheart Valenki, oh valenki, you’re old and worn Valenki valenki
Katyusha (a diminutive form of Katerina/Catherine) was written in 1938 but it wasn’t until WW11 that people went crazy for the song. It’s about a girl longing for her lover who joins the army and is sent to a distant outpost. Some believe its success is down to the fact that a famous Russian rocket launcher used by the military was also nicknamed Katyusha – the weapon played an important role in WWII. Here is the song with Russian subtitles. Sing along!
1.Finally number one… Ой, мороз, мороз
“Oy, Moroz, Moroz” (Oh, frost, frost…) is a great song that will help you to feel a real Russian winter, how cold you might be outside, and how warm it is when you get back home to your family.
These all are amazing songs that can very well show the Russian culture, Russian people, their thoughts and feelings, Russian soul. Enjoy Russian with “Enjoy Russian” Language School! Apply for a Russian language course