Katyusha (song)

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GenreRussian romance
Songwriter(s)Mikhail Isakovsky
Composer(s)Matvey Blanter

"Katyusha" (Russian: Катюша [kɐˈtʲuʂə] (About this soundlisten) – a diminutive form of Екатерина, EkaterinaKatherine), also transliterated as "Katûša", "Katusha", "Katjuscha", "Katiusha" or "Katjusha", is a Soviet folk-based song and military march. It was composed by Matvey Blanter in 1938, and gained fame during World War II as a patriotic song, inspiring the population to serve and defend their land in the war effort. In Russia, the song was still popular as of 1995.[1] The song is the source of the nickname of the BM-8, BM-13, and BM-31 "Katyusha" rocket launchers that were used by the Red Army in World War II.[2]


The song is about a Russian woman called Katyusha. Standing on a steep riverbank, she sends her song to her lover, a soldier serving far away. The theme of the song is that the soldier will protect the Motherland and its people while his grateful girl will remain true to him. Its lyrics became relevant during the Second World War, when many Soviet men left their wives and girlfriends to serve in World War II, known in Russia as The Great Patriotic War. Many of the men never returned home, with an estimated 8,668,400 Soviet military deaths.[3] The lyrics are written by Mikhail Isakovsky.

Performance history[edit]

Single by the USSR State Jazz Band cond. by Victor Knushevitsky, soloists: Valentina Batishcheva, Pavel Mikhailov and Vsevolod Tyutyunnik
LabelAprelevka Record Plant
"Katyusha" on YouTube

The Soviet Union's involvement in World War II began on September 17, 1939 when the Red Army invaded eastern Poland and occupied the Polish territory assigned to it by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, followed by co-ordination with German forces in Poland. However, the song's popularity began to increase with the beginning of Operation Barbarossa launched by Germany against the Soviet Union. The song was sung by female students from a Soviet industrial school in Moscow, bidding farewell to soldiers going to the battle front against Nazi Germany. Its first official performance was by Valentina Batishcheva in the Column Hall of Moscow's House of the Unions, at the State Jazz Orchestra concert in autumn 1938.[4] It has since been performed many times by other famous singers, including Lidiya Ruslanova, Georgi Vinogradov, Eduard Khil, Anna German, Ivan Rebroff, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Iosif Kobzon, countertenor Vitas, a duet by Marina Devyatova and Katya Ryabova, Elena Vaenga, and more. "Katyusha" is part of the repertoire of the Alexandrov Ensemble.[5]

In other languages[edit]

In 1943, the Kingdom of Italy, until then one of the Axis powers, joined the Allies. During the next two years, Italian partisans fought against German forces in Italy and Italian Fascists. Felice Cascione [it] wrote Italian lyrics for "Katyusha". His adaptation, Fischia il vento (The Wind Blows), became one of the most famous partisan anthems, along with Bella ciao and La Brigata Garibaldi. In Indonesia, Joko Widodo campaign song named Goyang Jempol Jokowi Gaspol uses its melody.[6]

During the last battles on the Eastern Front, the Blue Division used the melody of "Katyusha" for an adaptation called Primavera (Spring), an anti-communist chant extolling the value of Spanish fighters.[7]

During the Greek Civil War (1946–1949), Greek partisans who fought against the German invasion in 1941 wrote their version of "Katyusha" named Ο ύμνος του ΕΑΜ (The Hymn of EAM). This adaptation was recorded much later by Thanos Mikroutsikos and sung by Maria Dimitriadi.[8]

The song was translated into Hebrew and performed by 1945, and has been popular ever since in Israel.[9]

Katyusha is also a popular song sung in the People's Republic of China due to influence from the Soviet Union in the second half of the 20th century and is still widely popular. The popularity of these songs even reached a point in China that at the time young people would deem it a great shame if they couldn't sing them.[10] During the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, the Chinese honor guard contingent led by Li Bentao surprised hundreds of locals when they sung Katyusha during their march back to their living quarters during a nighttime rehearsal.[11]

This song was also performed in English by Abney Park on their 2013 album "The Circus at the End of the World".[citation needed]

It is a popular song in Iceland (particularly among schoolchildren) where it is known as "Vertu til er vorið kallar á þig" ("Be Ready When Spring Calls"), the lyrics by Tryggvi Þorsteinsson encourage hard work in the hayfields in spring.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stites, Richard; Von Geldern, James (1995). Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953. Indiana University Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-253-20969-6.
  2. ^ Zagola, Steven (1984). Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two. Arms and Armour Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-85368-606-8.
  3. ^ "К вопросу о потерях противоборствующих сторон на советско-германском фронте в годы Великой Отечественной войны: правда и вымысел : Министерство обороны Российской Федерации". encyclopedia.mil.ru. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  4. ^ Анастасия, Лисицына (10 February 2018). "Золотой Блантер: "Катюша" и другие песни". Gazeta.ru. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Alexandrov Ensemble Coming with its Youngest Soloist". Portal of Prague. Organiser’s press release. 27 April 2012. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  6. ^ Kill the TV (10 March 2019), GOYANG JEMPOL JOKOWI GASPOL, retrieved 10 May 2019
  7. ^ Primavera - Song of the División Azul with Lyrics on YouTube
  8. ^ "Δημητριάδη – Ύμνος του ΕΑΜ". 18 October 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Russian WWII Song "Katusha" (Hebrew Version 1945)". YouTube.
  10. ^ "Russian song brings nostalgia in China". Global Times. 11 May 2015.
  11. ^ http://www.xinhuanet.com//mil/2015-07/22/c_128047412_2.htm
  12. ^ Kolbeinn Tumi Daðason (22 June 2018). ""Vertu til er vorið kallar á þig" gæti gert Volgograd að íslenskri gryfju". Vísir.is. Retrieved 16 February 2020.

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