Moscow Nights

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"Midnight in Moscow"

"Moscow Nights" (Russian: Подмосковные вечера, tr. Podmoskovnye vechera) is a popular Soviet-Russian song.

Discogs database indicates initial release was 1952.[1][better source needed]

Composition and initial success[edit]

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 Oblast") and made corresponding changes to the lyrics.[citation needed]

In 1956, "Podmoskovnye Vechera" was recorded by Vladimir Troshin,[2] 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.[citation needed]

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 arrangement of the tune, first performed by himself in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, contributed to this international spread.[citation needed]


The British jazz group, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, had a hit with the song in 1961 under the title "Midnight in Moscow".[3] 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),[4] while it spent three weeks at number one on the American Easy Listening chart.[5]

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.

Swedish pianist Jan Johansson recorded a jazzy version of the song. It was named "Kvällar i Moskvas Förstäder", literally "Evenings in Moscow's suburbs" and was released in 1967.[6]

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."[7] 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.

A special piano version was used to accompany the ribbon routine of Russian rhythmic gymnast Evgeniya Kanaeva who became an Olympic champion at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

The Russian pop singer Vitas recorded a version of the song with his counter-tenor voice. He performed it at several Chinese festivals before its release in November 2010.[8]

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 2015, the Massed Bands of the Moscow Garrison, under the direction of Lieutenant General Valery Khalilov, performed a march arrangement of the song during the march past of foreign contingents (specifically those from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) in the Moscow Victory Day Parade that year.[9]

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.[10] Deutscher repeated the arrangement as an encore during her recital at the Lucerne Festival on 29 August 2018.

Place in Soviet culture[edit]

In the Soviet Union, the tune became the time signal sounded every 30 minutes on the Mayak music and news radio station in 1964.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In American popular culture[edit]

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).[11] It was used once again on 5 April 2018, as card number 585,[12] but the second line of the song was missing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Владимир Бунчиков / Владимир Трошин - Школьный Вальс / Подмосковные Вечера". Discogs. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Vladimir Trochin - Moscow nights (1956)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Kenny Ball". 22 May 1930. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  4. ^ "The Hot 100 Chart". Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 28.
  6. ^ "Lycklig resa – en hyllning till Jan Johansson". (in Swedish). Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Two Soviet Love Songs for Vocalising Pianist - Gao Ping". 12 August 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  8. ^ Video on YouTube on his compilation album Masterpieces of Three Centuries)[dead link]
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Wien: Junge Nachwuchs-Pianistin Alma Deutscher präsentiert ihre Fantasie für Putin". YouTube. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  11. ^ "CLP - Vanity Card #554". Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  12. ^ "CLP - Vanity Card #585". Retrieved 6 April 2018.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]