|Single by Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi & Mikhail Matusovsky|
|Songwriter(s)||Mikhail Matusovsky, Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi|
Composition and initial success
Well-established in their careers, composer Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi and poet Mikhail Matusovsky wrote the song in 1955 with the title "Leningradskie Vechera" ("Leningrad Nights"), but at the request of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, they changed the title to "Подмосковные вечера" ("Podmoskovnye Vechera," literally, "Evenings in the Moscow Suburbs") and made corresponding changes to the lyrics.
In 1956, Podmoskovnye Vechera was recorded by Vladimir Troshin, a young actor of the Moscow Art Theatre, for a scene in a documentary about the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic's athletic competition Spartakiad in which the athletes rest in Podmoskovye, the Moscow suburbs. The film did nothing to promote the song, but thanks to radio broadcasts it gained considerable popularity.
In 1957, quite to the surprise of its creators, the song won both the first prize at the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow and the international song contest. The song spread around the world, achieving particular popularity in mainland China; Van Cliburn's 1958 piano performance of the tune contributed to this international spread.
The British jazz group, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, had a hit with the song in 1961 under the title "Midnight in Moscow". This version peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart in January 1962. "Midnight in Moscow" also reached number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in March that year,(kept out of the number one spot by, Hey! Baby by Bruce Channel), while it spent three weeks at number one on the American Easy Listening chart.
In 1962 at the height of the folk revival in the United States, the song was recorded by The Chad Mitchell Trio on their popular live performance album At the Bitter End on Kapp Records. The group introduced the song with its original Russian lyrics to the American mainstream audience during the Cold War era of strained relations between the U.S. and the USSR.
In 1999 German heavy metal band U.D.O used Moscow Nights for the guitar solo in the song "Shout it Out" from the album Holy. A year later the Scorpions adapted it as an intro of the symphonic version of its song Crossfire - as part of the Deadly Sting Suite - on the Moment Of Glory album.
The Chinese composer Gao Ping used the song in 2003 as the basis for one of his Soviet Love Songs for Vocalising Pianist, "Evenings in Suburban Moscow." By his use, he was confirming the popularity of the song during the Communist era of China, a time when cultural exchanges between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were particularly strong.
The song was used in a folk style combined with Katyusha in a medley in 2012 by Uzbek rhythmic gymnast Ulyana Trofimova for her ball routine and in 2014 for Russian rhythmic gymnast Yana Kudryavtseva in her clubs routine.
In June 2018, the English teenage composer Alma Deutscher adapted the song for piano to entertain Russian President Vladimir Putin during a State Visit to Austria, at the request of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Given three days to arrange it, Deutscher started with a sad lament that transformed itself into a Viennese waltz. Kurz explained that the melding of the two musical styles illustrated well the bond of friendship between Austria and Russia.. Deutscher repeated the arrangement as an encore during her recital at the Lucerne Festival on 29th August 2018.
Place in Soviet culture
The shortwave radio station Radio Moscow's English-language service has played an instrumental version of "Moscow Nights", between informing listeners of frequency changes and the hourly newscast since the start of its 24-hour English Service in 1978.
In American popular culture
The lyrics were shown on 9 March 2017, in Cyrillic script, as the vanity card of The Big Bang Theory episode "The Escape Hatch Identification" (Season 10 Episode 18). And once again on 5 April 2018, as card number 585, but the second line of the song was missing.
- "Kenny Ball". 45-rpm.org.uk. 1930-05-22. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 28.
- "Lycklig resa – en hyllning till Jan Johansson". www.konserthuset.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-03-21.
- "Two Soviet Love Songs for Vocalising Pianist - Gao Ping". SOUNZ.org.nz. 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- Video on YouTube on his compilation album Masterpieces of Three Centuries)
- "CLP - Vanity Card #554". www.chucklorre.com. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
- "CLP - Vanity Card #585". www.chucklorre.com. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
- Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky, "Tales about Your Songs", Moscow, Detskaya Literatura, 1973. Долматовский Е. Рассказы о твоих песнях.- М.: Детская литература, 1973.