Vladimir Vysotsky was a singer, songwriter and actor who had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. He became widely known for his unique singing style and for his lyrics, which featured social and political commentary often expressed in humorous and down-to-earth language. He was also a prominent stage and screen actor. He gave voice to what many felt but could not express and became immensely popular in his lifetime.
Everyone knew Vysotsky’s songs, and many people knew them by heart: industrial workers, peasants and agricultural workers, soldiers and sailors, students and intellectuals, criminals and police officers, dissidents and KGB officers
Yet not a single line of his poetry was published in his lifetime, not a single large LP was recorded, not a single officially approved concert performance of him ever took place. Despite this official obstruction, amateur recordings of his songs were possessed by every household which had a tape-recorder, and his unannounced concerts attracted huge number of people everywhere – from Moscow and Leningrad to the remotest places in Siberia.
This Pushkin Club Evening will be dedicated to the theme of “Satirical Vysotsky”. Recordings of 13 of Vysotsky’s satirical songs will be played, and one will be read in Russian. All the songs will also be read in English translation.
At the end of the Evening, the audience will have an appreciation of why Vysotsky and his songs were so important to the whole of Russia but also of why during his life-time the authorities felt compelled to treat him as a non-person.
The Evening will be introduced by David Brummell.