The History of Russia’s National Tune

The old days of the Russian National Anthem go back to the Napoleon. Early versions consisted of canons depicting the retreat of Bonaparte in 1812. In 1833 the “Russian Hymn” was composed by Alexis Lvov and remained Russia’s official song for the next 100 or so years. Outside of Russia, it is most often heard in English as the hymn “God the All-Terrible”
The National Anthem of the Russian Federation (Государственный гимн Российской Федерации) is the most recent official National Anthem of Russia. It’s roots, however, go back to 1944 when the Soviet Anthem was composed by Alexander Alexandrov with lyrics by Sergey Mikhalkov. Containing more Russian Nationalistic themes, it was written to replace the more vague previous Russian Hymn. This anthem was amended in 1956 to remove lyrics that had references to former Soviet leader Comrade Stalin. The anthem was amended again in 1977 to introduce new lyrics written by Mikhalkov. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in1990, Chairman Boris Yeltsin chose the lyric free “Patriotichekara Pesnya” by Mikhail Glinka which proved to be highly unpopular. The government sponsored contests to create lyrics but none were ultimately chosen. This led Vladmir Putin to restore the Soviet Anthem as the new Federation’s tune. Again a contest was government sponsored to write more relevant lyrics and eventually a composition by Mikhalkov was chosen. According to the government, the lyrics were selected “to evoke and eulogize the history and traditions of Russia”. The new anthem was adopted in late 2000, and became the second anthem used by Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Lyrics translated to English:
Russia-our sacred state,
Russia-our beloved country.
A mighty will, a great glory
Are yours forever for all time!
Be glorious, our free Fatherland,
Ancient union of brotherly peoples,
Ancestor given wisdom of the people!
Be glorious, country! We are proud of you!
From the southern seas to the polar region
Lie our forests and our fields.
You are one in the world! You are one of a kind,
Native land protected by God!
Wide spaces for dreams and for living
Are open to us by the coming years.
Our faith in our Fatherland gives us strength.
So it was, so it is, and so it will always be!

Here’s a video on the Federation Anthem-

Food for thought, with all the rich Russian music history, it is surprising they had such difficulty coming up with an original national anthem. One would think they would call upon their multitude of renowned composers.

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