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Vladimir Vysotsky

(1938 1980)


'I want to state and assure you, that author's song demands great work. This song is always living with you, never giving you rest.' -Vysotsky said.

One had to live several lives to feel keenly all the personages featured in his songs. These songs generally fall into topical cycles, such as war, mountain, sport, Chinese and other cycles. People who had fough at war would think that Vysotsky himself had experienced what he wrote about in his songs - so true to life and sincere his songs are. Prisoners, seamen, alpinists, and drivers - all would think he was one of them through and through.

Vysotsky's songs are mostly monologues by all kinds of characters: hooligans, average citizens, fairy heroes, etc., in his last years these soliloquies were on his own behalf. This original mixture expressed Vysotsky's essential features, both artistic and personal. The same blend we find in his best parts on stage (Hamlet and Galileo) and on screen (geologist in the movie 'Short Meetings', radio operator in 'Vertical', etc.).

It seems right to say that the unheard-of nation-wide love Vysotsky gained was to a great extent conditioned by the social and political situation of that time. The dull epoch of zastoi (stagnation) seemed to last forever. The feeling of hopelessness, suppression of any initiative and sheer poverty made people plunge into inebriety, cynicism, double morality and secret backbiting of the authorities. All this was revealed in Vysotsky's characters. He was the one who openly spoke about how the country was living in reality. He mocked at and grieved at the same things that millions of people were spiteful and sad about. He was the one speaking for all.

Some still argue about whether Vysotsky was more of a poet or an actor. Some claim that his songs and verses are rather mediocre and it was only his bright performance that made them worthy. Others state that hardly any of Vysotsky's parts on stage and in cinema can be compared to originality and talent of his songs.

Vysotsky's songs are like roles from some unwritten plays. Plays with such roles would probably be written in some time, but he did not want to and could not wait. So he made up those roles and was both the stage-director and performer himself.

Performing his songs-roles with unique characters, non-invented conflicts and precisely developed plots, he was raving and stormy, his husky voice making audience thrill. It seemed impossible to sing and even to breathe under such a nerve-strain, but he did.











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