The Leshchenko Cabaret, dubbed even in Paris as “the Maxim’s of the East”, was one of the most fashionable places of entertainment in the Bucharest of the thirties. In addition to the metropolitan elite and the foreign aristocrats, its regulars also included those Russian emigrants, aristocrats, White officers and middle-class people, who during the war and the civil war managed to get through to Bessarabia, annexed to Romania. For them was written by the leader of Leshchenko’s orchestra, the Izmail-born George Ipsilanti, the song Тоска по родине, “Homesickness”, which regularly featured in Leshchenko’s repertoire. A recording, however, was made only in the 1940s with Ipsilanti’s wife, the Chisinău/Kishinev-born Anna Bayanova. The song, which was banned in the Soviet Union, spread across the country via the smuggled copies of this disc, and Homesickness, written by Bessarabian Romanian singers and a Greek composer, became a kind of an unofficial Russian anthem.
…The native land, however, waited in vain. The emigrants did not see it any more. On the contrary, the Soviet Union marched into Bucharest. Leshchenko was arrested by the Romanian secret police and he died in the prison of Târgu Ocna in 1954. Bayanova was imprisoned during the war by the Romanian police for singing in Russian. After her release she was condemned to silence, and only in the 1960s she was allowed to leave for the Soviet Union. Ipsilanti managed in time to flee to America, and he died in Los Angeles in 1994. And the hopeful and nostalgic hymn of the emigrants to their homeland became a labor camp song expressing the reality of the same homeland with the title Не печалься, любимая, “Don’t worry, my beloved”, as we can hear in Dmitry Astrakhan’s film Всё будет хорошо, “Everything will be all right” (1995).
Go to río Wang for texts, musical clips, and evocative pictures; the excerpt from the Astrakhan film choked me up, and it’s not even my homeland.
On a different plane, and nothing to do with río Wang: Russia Football Chants and Songs.