Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hymn of the Russian Federation

In the last few days of 2000, Russia's new president Vladimir Putin, decided to give the Russian people a new anthem, since a common complaint was not having words to their current anthem. So Putin, upon the advice of the Communists in the parliament who could vote down the bill, adopted the old anthem from the Soviet Union, identifying with the country's past. However, only the music passed the legislative process in early to mid December, 1999. The new words that were written by Sergei Vladimirovich Mikhalkov (the same person who wrote the lyrics to the old Soviet anthem!) to replace the Communist-style words were passed by Presidential order on December 30 of that year (many deputies objected to the mention of God in the anthem text.

Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov was born on April 13 in Plakhino, a village south-east of Moscow. As a boy his singing was so impressive that he travelled to Saint Petersburg to become a chorister in Kazan Cathedral. A pupil of Medtner, he studied composition at Saint Petersburg and in Moscow, where he eventually became professor of music in 1918.

Alexandrov founded the Alexandrov Ensemble, and spent many years as its director, in which role he first gained favor with Joseph Stalin, the country's ruler during the last two decades of Alexandrov's life. His choir participated successfully in the Universal Exposition of 1937 in Paris, and in 1942, Stalin commissioned him and lyrist Sergey Mikhalkov to create a new Soviet national anthem, which was officially adopted on January 1, 1944. It was very popular that it was used by the Soviet Union until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It later became the National Anthem of Russia in December 2000, with Mikhalkov writing the new lyrics. He died on July 8, 1946, while on tour in Berlin.

Above is a stamp of the anthem composer, Alexandrov issued in Russia on 1983.