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

The Evening on the Roadstead

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‘The Evening on the Roadstead’ song saw light in Leningrad, the city that just in a few months after the war breaking out found itself in the middle of a battle.

Vasily Soloviev-Sedoy, author of the song, remembered the following: “In August, 1941 I along with a group of composers and musicians were working at the Leningrad Port. It was one of those perfect evenings that you can come across only at the Baltic Sea. At a distance a ship was laying off, and soft sounds of a song accompanied by an accordion were reaching us. We had just finished our work and were enjoying the sailors singing. I immediately had the idea of writing about that quiet and wonderful evening and about those people that in a few days were to set off to a dangerous trip”.

It was then the composer came up with the famous line ‘Goodbye, my dear city’, destined to become immortal. But soon all the ideas left him and he had to turn to Alexander Churkin, his friend, poet and co-writer.

Following the reminiscences of Alexander Churkin: “Composer began to play the piano. It was a broad and disturbing melody. „We should begin this way „Goodbye, my dear city“…“, said Soloviev-Sedoy. Then I suggested the following line „Soon we are taking the sea“. But Soloviev-Sedoy crossed the word ‘soon’ out and wrote „Tomorrow we are taking the sea“. Though agreeing I argued a little about the rhyme, as ‘city’ and ‘sea’ didn’t rhyme much. But my friend answered me that it was the case when the rhyme didn’t matter. So, we went on”.

Still, there is another story about the creation of the song. According to it, the song was composed right before the war. This version is supported by the fact that the lyrics lack the word ‘war’. It’s a romantic song about love and compelled separation of lovers who will have to go a long way before they meet again.

The song was likely composed in 1941, but in spring and not in August. Vladimir Koralli, Soviet singer, songwriter and husband of the world-famous Soviet actress Klavdia Shulzhenko, used to remember that the song had been already being performed before the Great Patriotic War, as on June 22, 1941, the day when the war broke out, Shulzhenko at her concert in Erevan sang “Goodbye, my dear city”.
Nevertheless, during those terrible years of grief and sorrow the song telling us about the compelled separation sounded like a war composition, indeed. The song was so popular that it had gained different versions along the way. Thus, the infantry changed the word ‘sea’ to ‘field’, while units fighting in Crimea — to ‘mountains’.

Even today the song, outliving its creators, is listed in the repertoire of various artists.

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