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 Andrei Voznesensky

Born:   May 12, 1933
Deceased:   June 1, 2010

Soviet and Russian poet and writer


The name of poet Andrei Voznesensky is known all over Russia and overseas. He is the author of lyrics to the first rock-opera in the USSR - Juno and Avos - which still holds the stage. The poet, whose works displeased Soviet censors and authorities, but exhilarated audiences in Russia and America, is also the author of dozens of popular songs.

Andrei Andreevich Voznesensky was born on May, 12th 1933 in Moscow. His poetic bent revealed itself in early youth. A 14-year old boy, he ventured to send his poems to Boris Pasternak. Soon he got a highly positive response that read: “Your entry into literature is vigorous and impetuous, and I am happy I have lived to see it”.

Andrei Voznesensky had several personal meetings with Boris Pasternak, and each time the renowned poet produced an indelible impression on the beginning man of letter. “I always perceived meetings with him as encounters with the reflection of God present in him”, Andrei Andreevich recalled.

Voznesensky graduated Moscow Architecture Institute as an architect in 1957, but writing already became the focal point of his life. In 1958 Voznesensky’s verses first appeared in periodicals.

His very first published book of poetry Mosaics greatly displeased censors. Right upon the publication its editor Kapitolina Afanasievna was fired. The authorities even wanted to annihilate the printed copies, and yet, strangely, the book remained available on bookstore shelves.

The following books of his poetry would at once vanish from the counter. The Parabola gained the status of a bibliographic rarity right after its publication.

Meanwhile, numerous poetic soirees, more reminding of anti-Stalinist meetings, were arranged at stadiums of the country. One of the main heroes of those meetings was Andrei Voznesensky. Tens of thousands of people came to listen to him, as well as Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Robert Rozhdestvensky.

With the advent to power of Nikita Khrushchev the poet Andrei Voznesensky again fell into governmental disgrace. During a meeting with workers of art the secretary general, on seeing Voznesensky, gave a shout: “Get out of here, Mr.Voznesensky, go to your masters. I will order Shelepin, and he will sign your foreign passport!” (Such a threat in those days meant that you are never going back to your own country…) The poet’s destiny was eased thanks to a phone call from the American president John Kennedy.

In spite of the threats the poet was allowed to go on a tour to the USA, where he soon became the most popular of Russian poets. His tour was reflected in the cycle of poems 40 lyrical digressions from the poem “Triangular Pear”.

“Theatre In Taganka” started from Andrei Voznesensky. “He was among the first who came to us, and his lyrics became the base for the famous Antiworlds, which were later performed thousands of times” – the People’s Artist of RF Alla Demidova recalls.

When yet in America, Andrei Voznesensky started writing his poem Avos under the impression of the story of Nikolay Rezvanov, one of the leaders of the first Russian around-the-world expedition. The poem stood him in good stead in 1978, when director Mark Zakharov offered him to stage a performance with Alexey Rybnikov’s music improvisations on the theme of Orthodox Christian psalms. Zakharov suggested The Lay of Igor's Warfare as the plot, but Voznesensky did not support the idea.

"At that time I was a bold young poet, and I did not understand why one had to write something Slavophil based on The Lay of Igor's Warfare, whereas even its author is unknown and not known if the author had existed at all. I said: “I have a poem of my own, it is called Avos!, about love of the 42-year old Count Rezanov to 16-year old Conchita; let’s make an opera based on this poem!”. Mark was somehow at a loss and said: “Let me read it”. Next day he said he agreed to it and we would make an opera, and the choice of the composer would be his. He chose Alexey Rybnikov. That was a fortunate choice” – the poet recounted later.

The premiere of the rock-opera Juno and Avos starring Nikolai Karachentsov and Yelena Shanina took place on stage of Lenkom Theatre on 9 July 1981. The performance still gathers hundreds of viewers in the theatre.

Lots of popular songs were set to his lyrics, including the famed Million Alyh Roz to music of Raimonds Pauls. With that song Alla Pugacheva triumphed in the most well-known concert halls of the country. Million Alyh Roz (Million of Red Roses) is still greatly loved in Japan.

In the early 1980s Andrei Voznesensky started writing prose, and also he experimented in visual art. Thus, he created art videos, blending together verses, drawings, photos and type compositions. In the late years of his life Andrei Voznesensky was in creative quest. He combined declamation of verses with music and demonstrations of art videos. His art videos were screened in Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, as well as in Paris, New York, and Berlin.

Andrei Voznesensky was a vice president of the Russian Pen Centre; with his efforts the Boris Pasternak Museum was founded in Peredelkino, Moscow. In 1996 Voznesensky was called “the greatest poet of modern time”.

He died after a serious long illness at the age of 77 at his home in Moscow. The poet was laid to rest at Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, on June 4. His grave is in the family sepulcher, next to the tombs of his father and mother.

Tags: Russian writers Andrei Voznesensky    

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