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

And, Between the Lines, the Blue Scarf Appears Before me Again

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Music to the popular Blue Scarf song saw light in 1940 in Minsk. It was composed by Jerzy Petersburski, a prominent Polish pianist and composer born in the Russian Empire, head of the Belorussian Republican Jazz Band. During a tour, the band performed the music in Moscow where it was heard by poet and writer Yakov Galitskiy. Just in a few days the melody received its words and the newly-composed song was performed by Stanislav Landau.

Soon this light and romantic song became a hit performed by various famous Soviet singers featuring Vadim Kozin, Mikhail Garkavi, Lidiya Ruslanova, Ekaterina Yurovskaya, Izabella Yur’eva, Klavdia Shulzhenko.

With the war breaking out many popular artists began traveling to the battlefields and staging concerts for officers and soldiers. It was then hat the melody began receiving new, war inspired, lyrics (including The 22 June song).

Following the book by Vyacheslav Khotulev ‘Klavdia Shulzhenko: Life, Love and Song’:
“One day after the concert in a military unit… a young lieutenant approached Klavdia Ivanovna (Shulzhenko). He said that his name was Mikhail Maximov and he wrote new lyrics to the Blue Scarf melody. The song has already been among the most popular works for three years at least. The young 22 years old lieutenant offered her (Shulzhenko) his lyrics, and she promised to read them. She liked Maximov’s sincere and innocent words very much. The very same evening she performed the song to the music of Jerzy Petersburski and lyrics by Maximov. Maximov willingly shared his lyrics. Just in a week the song was known across the whole Volkhov Front, and in two months — all over the front line and home front”.

Mikhail Maximov based his lyrics on the words written by Galitsky, but changing several lines in the vein of the ongoing war. His lyrics ended as following: «The soldier fires his machinegun for the blue scarf that rested once on the shoulders of his beloved». On June 8, 1942 the poem was published on page two of the division broadsheet newspaper ‘For the Motherland’ and signed ‘Lieutenant M. Maximov’.

Later, during the War, the song was issued on a gramophone record, that made it even more popular. The first record of this song in 1942 is regarded to be the revival of the gramophone recording after it had been interrupted by the War.

In the book “When You Ask Me” Shulzhenko remembered that Blue Scarf was recorded in winter in the stone cold record studio. Shulzhenko was singing full clothed. Galya Zhuravleva put a wax-cake on the plate and recording began. Shulzhenko was singing and Zhuravleva remembered how she carrying her little son on her hands had been seeing her husband off to the front. Zhuravleva was listening without taking notice that her tears were falling on the wax-cake and melting it. The record turned to be faulty, but Shulzhenko was proud of such a fault for the rest of her life.

The ‘Concert for the Front’ movie directed by Mikhail Slutskiy was premiered in November of 1942. The film depicted many prominent Soviet artists including Klavdia Shulzhenko who was singing her Blue Scarf.

Following the remembrances of poet Surkov:
“Since the very first days of war it became clear that the hearts and minds of soldiers were occupied not only by the steel solid lines of the Sacred War song. There was also enough space for the Blue Scarf’s beautiful and romantic words. Out in the trenches and dugouts soldiers and officers could have found the version they preferred the most”.

The Blue Scarf became the symbol of the Great Patriotic War. Even after the War Klavdia Shulzhenko went on performing it, while her singing the song with a blue scarf in hands is one of the most recognisable images of the Soviet popular culture.

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