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"Kalinka" (Russian: Калинка) is a Russian song written in 1860 by the composer and folklorist Ivan Larionov and first performed in Saratov as part of a theatrical entertainment that he had composed. Soon it was added to the repertory of a folk choral group.
The refrain of the song refers to the kalinka, which is the snowball tree (Viburnum opulus). It has a speedy tempo and light-hearted lyrics. The main refrain (Kalinka, Kalinka...) increases in tempo each time it is sung. One of the best-known singers of this song was Evgeny Belyaev (1926-1994).
Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
Ах, под сосною, под зеленою,
Kalinka, kalinka, kalinka moya!
Akh, pod sosnoyu, pod zelenoyu,
Little red berry, red berry, red berry of mine!
Ah, under the pine, the green one,
Recordings and cultural influence
Instrumental organ versions of this song can be found playing in North American ice hockey arenas. A techno infused version of "Kalinka" played by live organist Dave Calendine plays when Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk scores a goal.
It appeared in the 1953 film Tonight We Sing, performed by Italian American operatic bass and actor Ezio Pinza. The picture was a semi-biography of Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin who famously sang and, during the early days of recording, recorded the song for HMV/Victor. Pinza's recording was included on the 10-inch LP soundtrack album release of the same year, coincidentally from RCA Victor.
In 2003, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC. Since then, "Kalinka" is often played before or after important matches, including the Champions League clashes with FC Barcelona and the League Cup final.
In the 2013, Season 2 episode, "A Father's Love", of the American sitcom, New Girl, Nick's con-man father involves Jess and Nick in a scheme with Russian horse sperm dealers. A nervous Nick begins to sweat profusely when he meets the intimidating dealers. To prove that he is not a cop wearing a wire, the men force Nick to remove his clothes and dance while they mockingly clap rhythmically and sing Kalinka.
In the video game PayDay 2, the song is sung by the character Vlad in the success of the Four Stores mission.
In the game Civilization VI, released in 2016, Kalinka is the playing soundtrack when playing as the Russian civilization. As the player progresses throughout the different civilization eras, additional complexity and layers are added to the Kalina-theme on YouTube.
The arrangement of Kalinka which is traditionally performed by the Alexandrov Ensemble turned the frivolous song into an operatic aria. The first Ensemble soloist to perform this was Pyotr Tverdokhlebov, but the first tenor to earn the title of Mr Kalinka was Victor Ivanovich Nikitin at the Berlin peace concert of August 1948, where he sang three encores of the song. The title is unofficial and awarded by the audience and journalists present at successful Ensemble concerts where Kalinka earns numerous encores. A definitive recording of Kalinka was made in 1963 at the Abbey Road Studios, London by the lyric tenor Evgeny Belyaev, with the Alexandrov Ensemble, under the direction of Boris Alexandrovich Alexandrov. Belyaev earned the Mr Kalinka title at the London concerts of 1956 and 1963. Since then there have been several Mr Kalinkas, including Vasily Ivanovich Shtefutsa and Vadim Petrovich Ananyev.
- Note: "Cranberry" is not really a translation of the word "Kalinka"
- AllMusic, "Kalinka (Little Snowfall)"
- Listen2Russian, "Kalinka (Калинка)", archived from the original on 2011-04-10, retrieved 2015-07-31
- "Пастораль над руинами. Германский тур Александров-ансамбля", Анатолий КОМПАНИЕЦ, The newspaper "Culture": Pastoral over the Ruins, by Anatoly Kompaniets, April 27, 2000 (Russian)
- Recorded on the CD Kalinka
- Translated RUVR Voice of Russia: Alexandrov Ensemble
- Rg.ru webpage: interview with Ensemble director Leonid Maleev, by Yadviga Yuferova, 2007 In Russian