Kalinka (song)

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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.[1] 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 Yevgeny Belyaev (1926-1994).

Lyrics sample[edit]

Russian Transliteration English

Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
В саду ягода малинка, малинка моя!

Ах, под сосною, под зеленою,
Спать положите вы меня!
Ай-люли, люли, ай-люли, люли,
Спать положите вы меня.

Kalinka, kalinka, kalinka moya!
V sadu yagoda malinka, malinka moya!

Akh, pod sosnoyu, pod zelenoyu,
Spat' polozhite vy menya!
Ay-lyuli, lyuli, ay-lyuli, lyuli,
Spat' polozhite vy menya.

Little red berry,[2] red berry, red berry of mine!
In the garden (there is) a berry - little raspberry, raspberry of mine!

Ah, under the pine, the green one,
Lay me down to sleep,
Oh-swing, sway, Oh-swing, sway,
Lay me down to sleep.

Recordings and cultural influence[edit]

This is considered one of the most famous Russian folk and folk-style songs in Russia, and all over the world.[3] [4][5]

Instrumental organ versions of this song can be found playing in North American ice hockey arenas.[3][6] A techno infused version of "Kalinka" played by live organist Dave Calendine plays when Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk scores a goal.[7]

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 1993 the Welsh tenor Wynford Evans sang "Kalinka" at Cardiff Arms Park Stadium accompanied by the largest ever male choir of 10,000 voices, known as the World Choir.[citation needed]

In 1998 the Danish band, Infernal, covered the song to popularity in Scandinavia.[citation needed]

In the 2000 OVA Labyrinth of Flames, both episodes contain the song as their ending theme.[citation needed]

In 2003, Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC. Since then, "Kalinka" is often played before or after important matches,[citation needed] including the Champions League clashes with FC Barcelona and the League Cup final.

In 2008, the Russian singer Alexey Vorobyov also has a song called New Russian Kalinka (in English) and Novaya Ruskaya Kalinka (in Russian), which is a cover of the song.[citation needed]

A balalaika version of Kalinka can be found in a record shop, at the map "Terminal", in the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released by Activision in 2009.[citation needed]

In 2010, Russian countertenor Vitas covered the song on his album Masterpieces of Three Centuries.[citation needed]

The 2011 Hindi film '7 Khoon Maaf' directed by Vishal Bhardwaj features a track called 'Darling' and 'Doosri Darling' which is a cover with its own lyrics in Hindi.[citation needed]

On the Italian television show, Non è la RAI, Russian contestant Yelyena Mirzoyan performed the song during the third season of the show.[citation needed]

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.

Mr Kalinka[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9] Belyaev earned the Mr Kalinka title at the London concerts of 1956 and 1963.[10] Since then there have been several Mr Kalinkas, including Vasily Ivanovich Shtefutsa and Vadim Petrovich Ananyev.[11]


Further reading[edit]