Yuri Vizbor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yuri Vizbor
Yuri Iosifovich Vizbor.jpg
Yuri Vizbor
Born(1934-06-20)20 June 1934
Died17 September 1984(1984-09-17) (aged 50)
OccupationPoet, bard, actor

Yuri Iosifovich Vizbor (Russian: Юрий Иосифович Визбор; June 20, 1934 – September 17, 1984) was a well-known Soviet bard and poet as well as a theatre and film actor.


Yuri Vizbor was born in Moscow where he lived for most of his life. He worked as a teacher, a soldier, a sailor, a radio and press correspondent, a ski instructor, and an actor in many famous Russian films and plays.[1] He participated in and documented expeditions to remote areas of the Soviet Union. His compositions included songs, poetic prose, plays, screenplays and short stories.[2]

Early years[edit]

Vizbor's father, a commander in the Red Army, was of Lithuanian descent. His family name was originally Vizbaras. His mother was an ethnic Ukrainian from Krasnodar.[3] In 1937, his father fell victim to Stalin's purges. In 1941, Yuri and his mother moved to Siberia. This period influenced the artist's distaste for politics and his fascination with the wilderness.[2]

In 1951, he graduated from high school and after several failed attempts to start studies in several high-ranking universities (he was denied the place as the "son of the enemy of the People") was accepted as a student of the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. It was here that he wrote his first song, entitled "Madagascar".

Professional activities[edit]

After graduating with a degree in Russian Language and Literature in 1955, Vizbor worked as a teacher in Arkhangelsk. In 1957 he was conscripted to the Army where he worked as a radio operator. He was married in 1958. In the late fifties and early 60's Vizbor began to acquire fame as a songwriter by circulating homemade tapes.


Vizbor is often compared with his contemporaries, Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzhava. The topics of Vizbor's songs were observational, focusing on his love of nature and of travel. By using his extremely varied professions as a template, Vizbor attempted to document various aspects of "normal life" at the height of Brezhnev's period of stagnation. His trademark was a relaxed singing style that often sounded on the verge of laughter. Vizbor would record songs with a traditional Russian seven-string guitar that was often slightly out of tune.

While most Russian Bards relied on a rhythmic strumming pattern as the basis for their musical accompaniment, Vizbor was fond of a slow plucking style epitomized by songs such as "Fanskie Gory". His best-known tune was a romantic ballad called "Solnishko Lesnoe" or "Forest Sun." On a more somber note, his song "Seryoga Sanin" told the story of a free spirited friend who dies tragically.

Illness and death[edit]

In March 1984, Vizbor wrote his last song, having written over 250 of them during the past thirty-three years. His poetry had also been set to music by numerous musicians. His last writings were letters to his daughter from his sickbed while he lay dying of liver cancer from April to September 1984.


Year Title Role Notes
1967 July Rain Alik
1969 Vozmezdie Zakharov
1969 The Red Tent Behounek
1970 Moy papa - kapitan
1970 Perestupi porog Viktor Vasilyevicch
1970 Nachalo Stepan Ivanovich
1970 V Moskve proyezdom sotrudnik 'Vecherney Moskvy'
1971 Belorussian Station Balashov
1971 Nochnaya smena Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kovalenkov
1971 Ty i ya Sasha
1973 Seventeen Moments of Spring Martin Bormann 6 episodes, His best-known in the Soviet film
1975 Dnevnik direktora shkoly Pavlik Smirnov
1983 Ne bylo by schastya... Narrator (final film role)


A minor planet 3260 Vizbor discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1974 is named after him.[4]



  1. ^ "Краткая биохроника жизни Юрия Визбора (short biography of Yuri Vizbor)" (in Russian).
  2. ^ a b Юрий Визбор, Автобиография, 1981.
  3. ^ Анатолий Кулагин. Визбор
  4. ^ Dictionary of Minor Planet Names - p.271

External links[edit]