To the centenary of Bulat Okudzhava: update in the "Books" section

Bulat Okudzhava was a remarkable poet and composer, epoch man, one of the founders of the Soviet genre called "author song" or "guitar song", with his inimitable style. Many years have passed since his death, but his creative activity has not lost its relevance, and his songs continue to be listened to at friendly gatherings and on all-Russian TV and radio airwaves.

Bulat Okudzhava was born on May 9, 1924 in Moscow. The poet's father, Shalva Okudzhava was Georgian, and his mother Ashkhen Nalbandyan was Armenian. The family moved often, but most of Bulat childhood was spent in the center of the capital, in Arbat street. The father of the boy was a major party official, an ideological communist, but on false denunciation he was arrested and shot in May 1937. Soon the youngster mother was also arrested, and by court decision, she was sent to a prison camp to serve her sentence. So at the age of 13, Bulat became an orphan and had to move to live with his relatives in Tbilisi.

In 1942, straight from the ninth grade Okudzhava went to the front, fought near Mozdok on a mortar battery, was wounded. He was awarded medals "For the Defense of the Caucasus", "For Victory over Germany", as well as the Order of Patriotic War of the First Class.

After the war Bulat Okudzhava finished his secondary education and decided to enter the philological faculty of Tbilisi University. After graduation, the young man was placed on a job as a rural school teacher in the Kaluga region. During this period Okudzhava constantly wrote poems, many of which later became songs. The Kaluga newspaper “Molodoy Leninets” printed his works. It was in Kaluga in 1956 that the first collection of poems "Lyrics" by Okudzhava was published. After his parents were rehabilitated, Bulat returned to Moscow, joined the party, began to write songs and perform them actively. The first records with the songs by Okudzhava songs were released in France and Poland in the late 1960s. Six or seven years later, his records and discs began to be issued in the Soviet Union as well.

Okudzhava was also engaged in translations, mostly poetry, from Arabic, Swedish and Finnish languages. Until 1961, the author worked as an editor in the publishing house "Molodaya Gvardiya" and headed the poetry department of the "Literaturnaya Gazeta". Then he resigned and never worked as an employed person.

In 1961, the almanac "Tarusian Pages" published the writer's story "Good-bye, Schoolboy!”. Only in 1987 this autobiographical work was published as a separate edition. In just four decades, about 15 poetry collections were published, including "Islands", "Merry Drummer", "Arbat, my Arbat".

In 1962, Okudzhava became a member of the USSR Writers' Union. He became widely known for his author's songs, which the entire Moscow clerisy gathered to listen to. Nobody announced the first unofficial performances of Bulat Okudzhava, but there were always many spectators. After the concerts, people wrote down the lyrics of his songs and passed them on to friends and acquaintances. Two of Bulat Okudzhava songs became anthems of festivals the author’s songs. These are the songs "François Villon's Prayer" and "Let's Hold Hands, Friends". By the time the records were released, the whole country already knew these songs. And the first official concert of Bulat Okudzhava took place in 1962, in Kharkov. Okudzhava performed not only in the Soviet Union: he performed in Europe, the USA and Canada.

The genre "canzonet" characteristic for the poet contained features of Russian urban romance, folklore "transplanted to urban soil", traditional elegy, ballad and other genres of lyrics. Okudzhava considered A. Pushkin and L. Tolstoy, B. Pasternak and T. Mann as his teachers.

The songs of Bulat Okudzhava songs sound in more than 80 Soviet films: "Song about Arbat" in the film "Pokrovskie Vorota", "Your Nobility, Lady Luck" in "White Sun of the Desert".

"We Need One Victory", which became one of the author's most famous compositions, was written for the movie "Belorussky Vokzal" by Andrei Smirnov. Lyrical hero, Okudzhava was constantly travelling in his memory, living "in the middle between war and silence", retaining the features of a knight, a warrior, a defender of peace and good. The war entered into the lyrical narration and poetic imagery by Okudzhava: in the poems about love, "tenderness goes to the attack, blowing its quiet trumpets"; "sentries of love" invariably stand in the streets of Moscow. The theme of war is also connected with the "small orchestra of hope controlled by love" and the images of "three sisters of mercy – Faith, Hope and Love".

In the late 1960s, Okudzhava turned to historical prose. In the 1970-1980s, the novels "Poor Avrosimov" (1969) – about the tragic pages in the history of the Decembrist movement, "The exploits of Shipov, or Old Vaudeville" (1971); written on the historical data of the early 19th century, novels "The Journey of Dilettantes" (the first part in 1976? The second one in 1978) and "Engagement with Bonaparte" (1983) were published in separate editions.

Bulat Okudzhava started living in Peredelkino in the summer of 1987, no having received on lease small summer house built in the 1950s from the Writers' Union. Nowadays it is the museum dedicated to Bulat Okudzhava.

Okudzhava met perestroika with hope, sincerely believing that the country needed drastic alterations. It is not surprising that he actively joined the turbulent political process on the side of the conventional democratic front. After becoming one of the founders of the Russian PEN Centre, he became involved in human rights activities (including the Commission for clemency under the President). Bulat Okudzhava spent the later years of his life in Paris, where his last concert was held at UNESCO Headquarters on June 25, 1995. In 1997, the famous poet, composer and performer died. In the same year, Russia approved the Bulat Okudzhava Prize, which is awarded to poets and performers of author's songs. Five years later, a monument to the "singing poet" was unveiled in Arbat.

Okudzhava died on June 12, 1997 at the age of 73 in a military hospital in the suburbs of Paris. The cause of death was kidney failure. Bulat Okudzhava was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery in Moscow. A monument in the form of a stone block with the poet's name written on it was erected on his grave.

The section "Prints" of the museum Collection website features books by Bulat Okudzhava. Some of the books are autographed by the author.

“Mercies of fate” (new poems). Bulat Okudzhava. Publishing house "Moskovsky Rabochiy". Russia, Moscow. 1993
“Drops of the Danish King”. Movie scripts. Songs for movie. Bulat Okudzhava. All-Union creative and production association "Kinotsentr". Russia, Moscow. 1991
"Poor Avrosimov. Date with Bonaparte". Bulat Okudzhava. Russia, Moscow. 1989

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