Katyusha (song)

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"Katyusha"
War song
Language Russian
Published 1938
Genre Folk
Songwriter(s) Mikhail Isakovsky
Composer(s) Matvey Blanter

"Katyusha" (Russian: Катю́ша – a diminutive form of Екатерина—Katherine) also transliterated as "Katusha", "Katjuscha", "Katiusha" or "Katjusha", is a Russian folk song. 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 is still popular.[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]

Lyrics[edit]

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]

The Soviet Union's involvement in World War II began in June 1941, and the song's popularity began to increase. 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 others 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.

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.

During the Greek Civil War (1946–1949), Greek partisans who had also 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.[6] The song was translated into Hebrew and performed by 1945, and has been popular ever since in Israel.[7] 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.

References[edit]

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