Vladimir Vysotsky: The Voice of Generations

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When I first met “The Russians” in my life, I was living in Washington DC and found myself immersed in a sea of Russians as I made friends with a small community of students. It was they who introduced me to Vysotsky. This mysterious singer with a voice that must be heard as it simply cannot be described. It’s a voice that makes you remember where you were and what you were doing the first time you hear it.

PAVEL KRAYNOV
Journalist “KP”

On January 25, 1938, the famous poet, singer, musician and actor of Soviet theater and cinema Vladimir Vysotsky was born in Moscow. The biography of Vladimir Semenovich deserves special attention not only for fans of his talent, but also for connoisseurs of contemporary art. The day of his death – July 25 – is celebrated by the whole country as Memorial Day.

Birth of Vladimir Vysotsky

Vladimir Vysotsky was born in the Moscow maternity hospital №8. His mother, Nina Vysotskaya, said that a reddish and blue-eyed baby was born early in the morning. Giving the newborn son the name Vladimir was insisted by his father, a military signalman Semyon Vladimirovich.

Immediately after being discharged from the hospital, my mother brought Vladimir to house number 26 on 1st Meshchanskaya Street, now Prospect Mira. They lived there until their parents divorced.
In the biography of young Vladimir Vysotsky, there was a period of life in post-war Germany. At the age of nine, he and his father moved to the town of Eberswalde, where Semyon Vladimirovich did military service as an officer in the Soviet army.

A new stage in Vysotsky’s life began after returning to Moscow in 1949, when he moved to house number 15 in Bolshoy Karetny Lane. There he became interested in the guitar, began to compose poetry and went to the acting circle.

Creative careerThe creative biography of Vladimir Vysotsky consists of several periods. The earliest began in school years. As an actor, Vladimir Semenovich made his debut in 1954 – he performed with improvisation on the stage of the assembly hall of the girls’ school No. 187.

The house where young Vysotsky lived was a place of attraction for both talented creative youth and representatives of the intelligentsia and even criminals repressed in the past. Writer and screenwriter Artur Makarov, who was a close friend of Vladimir Semenovich, said that he was not seen in “dark” affairs, but was well acquainted with people with a criminal past.

In his youth, Vysotsky met many figures of Soviet culture. Famous figures of cinema, literature and art came to visit his friend Levon Kocharyan, who lived in the same house with the actor. Based on friendly gatherings in this creative company, his song “Big coachman” was born.

In 1955, Vladimir Vysotsky became a student of the Faculty of Mechanics at the Moscow Civil Engineering Institute. However, the very next year he dropped out. In the summer of 1956, the first step towards an outstanding career was made when Vysotsky successfully passed the entrance tests at the Studio School of the Moscow Art Academic Theater. The same Moscow Art Theater named after Chekhov.

Theatrical debut took place in a student performance based on Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. Then he was a third year student. After graduating from the institute, he was hired by the troupe of the Moscow Pushkin Drama Theater, where he worked from 1960 to 1962. There, in his repertoire, there were mainly small roles of the second or third plan. Then, for two more years, Vysotsky played in the theater of miniatures, where he also did not appear in the main roles.

A separate page in his life is occupied by the Taganka Theater. He worked there for almost 16 years – from 1964 to 1980. He played the leading roles in Hamlet and The Life of Galileo. He himself called the role of the Prince of Denmark the pinnacle of his career and did not come to it right away.

Vysotsky also took part in other productions of the Moscow Taganka Theater. For example, he played the role of Khlopushi in the play “Pugachev”, played the guitar in the poetic performance “Antiworlds”, wrote a song for the production “The Fallen and the Living” and played the merchant Yermolai Lopakhin in the play based on Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard”. He also took part in productions of Listen! and “The Good Man of Cezuan.”

The biography of Vladimir Vysotsky as a film actor began with a small role in the film “Peers”, which was released in 1959. For over twenty years, he was noted for roles in many films. He can be seen in episodes of the films “Vertical”, “Our House” and many others. The film “Intervention”, where Vysotsky played the main role, was released only in 1987.

His work in the film “The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed” stands apart. In 1987, he became a laureate of the USSR State Prize for the image of the policeman Gleb Zheglov he created on the screen.

At the same time, Vysotsky became famous as a songwriter. Many of his works were performed in films and television films, where he himself played. His poetry is called nothing else than “the new encyclopedia of Russian life.”

Death dateThe day of the death of Vladimir Vysotsky is celebrated as the day of his memory. He passed away on July 25, 1980. In those days, the capital of the USSR hosted the Summer Olympic Games, and there was a festive atmosphere everywhere. Against this background, the news of the poet’s death thundered like a bolt from the blue.

Due to the ambiguous attitude of the authorities towards Vysotsky, they tried not to advertise the fact of his death. But tens of thousands of people came to the Taganka Theater to say goodbye to their favorite artist. Despite the fact that the play “Hamlet” scheduled for July 27 was canceled, none of the spectators returned their tickets to the box office.

Every year, on Memorial Day – July 25 – thousands of fans gather at the artist’s grave at the Vagankovskoye cemetery to pay tribute.

Interesting facts about Vladimir Vysotsky

The first collection of Vysotsky’s poems came out almost a year after the poet’s death, in 1981.

Only six years after his death, Vladimir Vysotsky was awarded the title of Honored Artist of the RSFSR.

The first museum dedicated to the work of a poet and actor opened its doors to visitors in 1992. It is located in Moscow and bears the name “Vysotsky House on Taganka”. In 1996, his son Nikita became the director of the museum, who still holds this position.

Vladimir Semenovich was married three times. In their first marriage with actress Isolde Zhukova, they had no children. The second time he married actress Lyudmila Abramova, they had two sons – Arkady and Nikita. The third wife of Vladimir is the actress Marina Vladi.

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