10 most famous bards of the USSR and their songs

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Bard music in the Soviet Union was one of the most vivid ways of self-expression. The performers in their songs expressed thoughts and reflections, sometimes very countercultural, but more often life-philosophical. And the music itself was relatively simple and accessible for repetition, so the most famous bardic compositions were now and then performed on the guitar around the fire in a circle of close friends.

Deep songs – often much deeper than meets the eye – and easily reproduced music made bards very popular performers. And now it is these compositions that are the symbol of the USSR and the source of nostalgia for those times when only a guitar, a warm evening and close friends were needed for a good pastime.

For those who want to plunge into nostalgia for the times of the USSR, we have compiled a rating of the 10 most famous bards of the USSR and their songs. The top is compiled according to the data of the streaming service Yandex.Music.

Rating of the most famous bards of the USSR and their songs

Nomination a place Executor rating
Rating of the most famous bards of the USSR and their songs 10 Novella Matveeva ('The Girl from the Tavern') 4.1
9 Alexander Gorodnitsky ('Atlanta') 4.2
8 Julius Kim ('Moscow Kitchens') 4.3
7 Sergey Nikitin ('Alexandra') 4.4
6 Alexander Rosenbaum ('Waltz-Boston') 4.5
5 Oleg Mityaev ('Summer is a small life') 4.6
4 Alexander Galich ('When I Return') 4.7
3 Yuri Vizbor ('My dear') 4.8
2 Bulat Okudzhava ('Your Honor, Lady Luck') 4.9
1 Vladimir Vysotsky ('Zero seven') 5.0

10th place: Novella Matveeva ('The Girl from the Tavern')

Rating: 4.1

Novella Matveeva ('The Girl from the Tavern')

Novella Matveeva was not too widely known during her lifetime. However, this is not surprising. She practically did not perform as a bard, and most of the compositions were recorded together with Ivan Kiuru. Novella Matveeva is more famous as a poetess than as a performer.

However, those who accidentally – or purposefully – heard her songs are unlikely to be able to forget them. Novella Matveyeva had an extremely unusual voice for bard music – a high, thin, almost childish one. She performed songs primarily on her own poems, full of unexpected metaphors and wordplay, often with a bit of humor and irony.

'The Tavern Girl', recorded either with a stylization of Scottish songs, or under the impression of Celtic music, is the most famous composition of this bard. And even now she constantly appears on the 'air'. First, her quail was performed by the group 'Today in the World' near Moscow, which separated from 'Leap Year'; then – the young singer Utah. And many performers strive to tell this love story themselves – but hardly any of them will be able to come close to the original style that combines sadness and irony.

9th place: Alexander Gorodnitsky ('Atlanta')

Rating: 4.2

Alexander Gorodnitsky ('Atlanta')

Alexander Gorodnitsky is one of the founders of the author's and bard's song in Russia. And this is not surprising. He is the living embodiment of the bard: a geologist who spent half of his life on expeditions, wrote poetry, promoted domestic science and went on trips to the Far North.

Many songs by Alexander Gorodnitsky embody this taiga and northern romance. In 'Leather jackets' he admires the work of polar pilots, in 'Snow' and 'Rolls' – the severity of the cold Arctic beauty, in 'Don't Matter From Angry Longing' – the hard life of sailors and geologists who left their native lands. The first songs were recorded back in the mid-1950s, in the Far North, from where they were distributed throughout the country in the form of tape recorders.

The bard's work embodies the spirit of this time, 1960-1970s, the period of pioneers and conquerors. And his famous song itself is, of course, 'Atlanta'. The very ones who “hold the sky on stone hands.” In 2018, it became the official anthem of the Hermitage.

8th place: Julius Kim ('Moscow Cuisines')

Rating: 4.3

Julius Kim ('Moscow Kitchens')

Yuliy Kim is one of the few famous Soviet bards who participated in the dissident movement. And even in the Russian period, he very actively spoke out against the existing political system, but at the same time from a very pacifist point of view. Thus, he actively called for an end to all wars.

In the 1980s, Julius Kim moved somewhat away from the directly author's song. He became a theater-goer – an author of plays, an actor, a director. And this was an important milestone in his career. After all, it was in the theater that he was able to reach the apogee of his creativity, having released the song play “Moscow Kitchens” in 1991.

'Moscow Kitchens' told about the history of the dissident movement in the USSR. In the compositions included in this play, the author criticized the political aspects, and even the character traits inherent in Russian people.

Julius Kim's contribution to the development of Russian bard song, theater, cinema and just culture was appreciated at the highest level. This performer is the owner of the Bulat Okudzhava Prize. In addition, it was he who translated the musical 'Notre Dame de Paris' into Russian and took part in writing music for a large number of modern theatrical performances and films.

7th place: Sergey Nikitin ('Alexandra')

Rating: 4.4

Sergey Nikitin ('Alexandra')

Sergei Nikitin, together with his wife Tatyana, are known primarily as songwriters for a huge number of Soviet films. It is precisely their compositions – including those directly performed by the author – that have sounded in such films as 'The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!', 'Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears' and many others.

Sergei Nikitin worked for a long time in the Moscow theater 'Tabakerka' under the direction of Oleg Tabakov himself – and as a result took the position of head of the musical department there. The songs of this bard have been used in many performances, vaudeville and even operas. However, even now he has not left his work, continuing to record and perform.

But it is worth noting that at present, Sergei Nikitin and his wife are primarily performers of children's songs. For example, in the album 'Rubber Hedgehog', released in 2014, they set poems by Junna Moritz to the music of a seven-string acoustic guitar. At the same time, Sergei himself retained his 'gypsy' style of performance.

The most famous composition by Sergei Nikitin is, without a doubt, 'Alexandra' from the film 'Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears'. She is known not only in the post-Soviet space, but also abroad. In 1980, 'Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears' won the Oscar. However, the people also love the compositions from 'The Irony of Fate …' – rare gatherings with the guitar do without 'If you don't have an aunt' or 'I asked an ash tree'.

6th place: Alexander Rosenbaum ('Waltz-Boston')

Rating: 4.5

Alexander Rosenbaum ('Waltz-Boston')

Alexander Rosenbaum is one of the 'youngest' bards of the USSR era. He began his creative activity in the 1970s, but for the first few years he performed in various musical groups. And he went on stage on his own only in 1983.

And since then, Alexander Rosenbaum has been one of the favorite performers of Soviet and Russian soldiers. He actively performs at concerts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, travels to Afghanistan to support the troops of the USSR. But at the same time he performs 'thug chanson'. In his music of those times, retellings of the works of Arkady Severny, such as' Gop-stop! We came from around the corner … '.

Despite the fact that the lyrics of Rosenbaum's songs are replete with elements of thug romance, the very manner of their performance is very close to bardic music. And the most famous composition is, of course, 'Waltz-Boston'. It is devoid of elements of thug romance and is a song that can be sung by any bard.

Alexander Rosenbaum is currently continuing to create and perform. In 2019, he released the album Symbiosis, in which the author reads out his own thoughts and notes, moving from prose to poetry and back. However, now he is no longer a bard, but simply a representative of the modern Russian stage.

5th place: Oleg Mityaev ('Summer is a small life')

Rating: 4.6

Oleg Mityaev ('Summer is a small life')

Oleg Mityaev is exactly the person who wrote the main anthem of the entire bard movement, the song 'It's great that we are all gathered here today.' And for the first time he performed it in 1978 at the Ilmen festival.

The songs of the bard Oleg Mityaev reflect the life of an ordinary Soviet person, performer and poet. In them, he does not express any politics or philosophical remarks. When the movement of pioneers was popular and in demand in the Soviet Union, Oleg Mityaev sang about the romance of unbridled nature, the cold Far North and the unfriendly taiga. In the quieter 1980s, he released songs that tell of the 'urban romance' – 'Neighbor', 'Let's talk to you', 'Frenchwoman'.

And in the mid-1990s, Oleg Mityaev released a song that can touch every adult man: 'Summer is a small life.' Subsequently, this composition was covered by a huge number of performers. And many are still convinced that the authorship of 'Leta …' belongs to the group Uma2rman. And the absolute majority heard the “Neighbor” only in the performance of Mikhail Shufutinsky. Well, this is the fate of many Soviet and Russian bards – their songs are known by many more authors.

4th place: Alexander Galich ('When I return')

Rating: 4.7

Alexander Galich ('When I Return')

Alexander Galich is one of the bards who literally created the genre of the author's song. Brought up on classical romances and academic music, he brought their style into his own work. This bard performed his songs on a seven-string guitar, extracting amazing chords and transitions from it.

Despite the fact that in the first compositions of Alexander Galich there was practically no political subtext, the Soviet authorities found them to be inconsistent with the generally accepted aesthetics. And the persecution began against the bard. At the same time, Galich himself at that time was a famous writer, poet and cultural figure.

He was faced with a choice – either to bend over to the Soviet cultural nomenclature, performing only compositions “pleasing to the government”, or to conflict with the authorities. And he found the courage to choose the second path. Galich began performing at home theaters, and the records of his songs were seized by the KGB. In 1968 he performed at a concert of the Pod Integral club, which became a symbol of the dissident movement – and just a few weeks later, public persecution began. In 1971, he was expelled from all official creative unions and began to persecute in the press.

And as a result, in 1974, Alexander Galich emigrated from the USSR. During the entire period of the persecution, he wrote songs in which he talked about the current situation – and continued to criticize the Soviet regime.

Music of Alexander Galich exists in two forms. Good, high-quality recordings were made before the persecution began – and these are mostly romances. Such as 'When I come back'. Of course, this is already an author's song, the work of a bard, but they are full of classical and academic moods. The second hypostasis is the very songs for which the Soviet government hated Alexander Galich so much. They are recorded on the “apartment buildings”, on low-quality equipment. So you have to listen carefully.

3rd place: Yuri Vizbor ('My dear')

Rating: 4.8

Yuri Vizbor ('My dear')

Yuri Vizbor is one of the bards who stood at the origins of the Soviet author's song. He began to create back in 1957, while working as a field correspondent for Moscow radio. From numerous business trips, he brought not only news, but also songs invented along the way, including those describing the event he had seen.

In fact, Yuri Vizbor also created such an interesting direction of bardic music as 'song-reportage'. For example, 'Dombai Waltz' was written during an expedition to the Alibek summit together with prominent Soviet scientists. The same song became almost the anthem of all the pioneers and conquerors of mountain peaks – and then, in 1978, it was performed in space.

The music of Yuri Vizbor in Soviet times was popular primarily among the intelligentsia. In his compositions he sang the romance of hikes, conquests, wanderings. Even in one of his most famous compositions, 'My dear', bonfires, airplanes, pine trees and tents are mentioned.

The songs of Yuri Vizbor were written in a friendly company around the fire, far from civilization. And therefore, they must also be performed like this. With friends, around a campfire, in a forest or in a tiny mountain hut.

2nd place: Bulat Okudzhava ('Your Honor, Lady Luck')

Rating: 4.9

Bulat Okudzhava

Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava is one of the few bards of the USSR who went through the Great Patriotic War directly on the front line. And this is reflected in his work. For example, one of his most famous compositions is 'We Need One Victory', originally written for the film 'Belorussky Railway Station', but now performed at every concert dedicated to May 9.

The first poems of Bulat Okudzhava were published in military newspapers. For example, his 'Old Student Song' was published in the publication 'Soldier of the Red Army'. Most of the most popular compositions were recorded during his life in Moscow and during his membership in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1959 to 1967.

After 1970, Bulat Okudzhava, as an already recognized bard, begins to write songs for Soviet films. His music sounds not only in the 'Belorussky Station', but also in 'Straw Hat', 'Dagger', 'White Sun of the Desert' and a huge number of other paintings. However, what is especially interesting, the first gramophone records with Okudzhava's music were released not in the USSR, but in France.

In 1965 Bulat traveled to Paris, where he recorded several of his compositions. Three years later, the release of the album Le Soldat en Papier took place. But on the territory of the USSR, the bard began to be published only in 1976.

Many of the bard's compositions are dedicated to war and wartime. But it was the 'calm' songs, full of simple life romance, such as 'Your Honor, Gentlemen's Fortune' and 'Nadezhda's Little Orchestra' that became truly popular.

1st place: Vladimir Vysotsky ('Zero seven')

Rating: 5.0

Vladimir Vysotsky

Vladimir Vysotsky is a bard who has become not just a symbol of the Soviet author's song, no. He is one of the brightest, most famous and memorable representatives of the USSR stage. In his huge discography, everyone can find a song that can touch the soul.

Vladimir Vysotsky was not limited to any one topic. Of course, in many of his songs, the characters find themselves in extreme circumstances and existential questions are raised. But there are other compositions as well. There are everyday stories and 'fabulous', street and 'sports', military and camp, satirical and sentimental and romantic. In fact, the songs of Vladimir Vysotsky reflect the image of Russian life and therefore never lose their relevance. They are not about events, but about people. And even though Sportloto is no longer there, the desire to write at least somewhere remains.

The peak of popularity of Vladimir Vysotsky fell on the 1960s. It was then that almost all of his 'folk' songs were recorded. But in the 1970s, when Vysotsky finally played Hamlet in the play of the same name, his lyrics changed. It began to raise more philosophical and existential questions.

Yes, Vladimir Vysotsky was not only a bard. He fully laid out his soul in creativity, playing in cinema and theater, publishing prose and poetry. And, probably, that is why by the end of his life he could not stand it, began to take sedatives, and, apparently, because of them, he died at the age of 42.

It is difficult to name the most famous song of Vladimir Vysotsky. Almost all of them are dearly loved by the people and sold for quotes. And everyday-existential 'Zero seven' about loneliness, and one of the mountaineering hymns 'Top', and satirically-fabulous 'Song about the transmigration of souls', and dozens of others …

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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