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V. S. Visotskiy
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V. S. Visotskiy

Without doubt, the most famous Russian bard was born in Moscow in 1938.

Visotsky graduated from the school of acting at the Moscow Arts Theatre in 1960. From 1964 he worked at the Moscow Theater of Drama and Comedy on Taganka. He wrote his first song in 1960 and would ultimately have a significant influence on an entire genre of music.

His gruff voice and starkly, sometimes slyly, poetic lyrics have inspired two generations of Russians and are working their way into the young hearts of a third. The end of his life was also occupied by his second wife, Marina Vladi, a popular French actress of Russian descent. He died in 1980 from a heart attack, the death knell of a creative life lived too fast. The Soviet government, always aiming to please, erected a monument to him in Moscow, apparently contrary to his wishes. Whether the government did it well or clumsily, the point was made by an entire society as it mourned the death of their Shakespeare-with-a-guitar
During his study in the Nemerovich-Danchenko acting school-studio at MHAT Visotsky wrote just a few songs. His main passion were short stories featuring Seryozha - employee of the Central Boiler House, Vasyochek (Visotsky's nickname) and others. However as many other students Vladimir sang quite often, mainly "street songs" and thieve's cant that he learned in the Lev Kocharyan company on Big Karetny.
Fortunately several songs from the early Visotsky's repertoire were recorded on tape and now you can hear some of them.
I sang everywhere. I performed in people's homes, at night, with vodka or without, I sang in airfield - at the same time as combat aircrafts were landing - among black-dressed beatle-like technicians, we just went away so that the words would be heard. I perfomed in buses, in gigantic stadiums, and in the smallest places. In other countires, in some house, in some little room - and the French didn't understand: why is he so nervous and why is he yelling so much? Even after I translated the songs for them, they were still in a quandry, because for them singing is a genre that shouldn't touch on any problematic topics.
It is the only country - Russia, where poetry is, not just on a high level (that is understood) - but poetry is great, the greatest, the best. I think this is the case - not because our poets were only the greatest verse-writers, and wrote wonderful poetry, - but because they lived and behaved themselves with dignity - in relation to the authorities, their friends, each other and, of course their art. Due to this our poetry was always superior to the literature, although our literature is also great, the best in the world.
Even now if you hang somewhere a notebook sheet announcing concert of Evtushenko, Voznesensky, Akhmadulina or Okudjava - a huge stadium will be packed at once and tickets will be sold out in two days. Why it is so? Simply because people not only long for poetry, but for those poets who make it beautiful.

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