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Official website of the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival
22 June 2020

On June 22, at 4 O’Clock Sharp

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The 22 June song was composed by Jerzy Petersburski, prominent Polish pianist and composer born in Poland in the times of the Russian Empire.

After the September military campaign of 1939, when Poland was divided, Jerzy Petersburski moved to the Soviet controlled part of Poland, to the city of Belostok. At the end of 1939 he resumed his career and became leader of the Belarusian Republican Jazz Orchestra.

Petersburski composed the music in Minsk, capital of Belarus, in 1940, and the first version of lyrics was written Yakov Galitsky. Soon the song became a hit.

When the Great Patriotic War broke out, poet Boris Kovynev came up with the new lyrics reflecting this catastrophic event:

On June 22
At four o’clock sharp
Kiev was bombed,
And we were told
The War has started…

There are many different versions of the song’s lyrics, but the lines “On June 22, at four o’clock sharp” have forever lingered in the hearts and minds of the people. Following the reminiscences of composer Yuriy Biryukov:

“A few years ago Sergey Krasikov, poet, songwriter and editor of the ‘Poetry’ literary miscellany told me that once Boris Kovynev had brought The 22 June poem and suggested publishing it in the section dedicated to the works created during the War. He had shown him a newspaper clip with the undersigned poem. But members of the editorial board had regarded the poem to be to shallow and declined the suggestion. Probably they were right. But these lines were composed on-the-fly and took up by millions of people. Nevertheless, Kovynev hadn’t insisted on publishing the poem. He had taken his poem and gone away. By then he was a rather old man”.

Sources: «Советская музыка» (Soviet Music), «Военный альбом» (Military Álbum), «Победа.екатеринбург.рф» websites.