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Official website of the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival
15 July 2020

Mishka, the Man from Odessa

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Mishka-Odessit’ song (translated as Mishka, the man from Odessa) saw light in the first half of 1942. The composition is dedicated to the unexpected fall of the city of Odessa. One may wonder why the word ‘unexpected’ is used. The fall was unexpected as the USSR Information Bureau convinced all the Soviet people of the impregnability of that Black Sea stronghold defended by the exhausted divisions on the Army, Navy and volunteer corps. Everyone across the Soviet Union knew that hundreds of demoralised Romanian soldiers were given themselves up despite the enemy’s military superiority and conviction of the enemy commanders that Odessa would hold out no more than three days.

Leonid Utesov, famous Soviet singer and first performer of the ‘Mishka’ song used to remember “We were proud of Leningrad and Moscow, mourning the fall of Odessa. Vladimir Dykhovichniy wrote the poem ‘Mishka-Odessit’ and Mikhail Volovats came up with the melody (it’s worth noting that contemporary analysts argue Volovats authorship, attributing him only the music arrangement for Utesov’s band).”

According to written sources, the song was first published in April of 1942. Those iconic lyrics were typed on the complimentary ticket to Utesov’s concert. It’s interesting to note that the people of Odessa got acquainted with the ‘Mishka’ song only after the liberation of the city.

The Red Army returned to Odessa in Spring of 1944.