Complete Guide to Russian National Anthems

1791-1816

Let the Thunder of Victory Sound
Гром победы, раздавайся / Grom pobedy, razdavaisya

Music: Osip Kozlovsky
Lyrics: Gavrila Derzhavin
The composition was one of the numerous hymns and marches that were used as unofficial anthems of Russia before “The Prayer of the Russians” in 1816. This patriotic polonaise was written by the Polish-Russian Osip Kozlovsky during the reign of Catherine the Great in 1791. It commemorates the victorious capture of Izmail fortress by marshal Suvorov from the Ottoman Empire.

1796-1816

Kol Slaven
Коль славен / Kol Slaven

Music: Dmitry Bortniansky
Lyrics: Mikhail Kherkasov
The famous hymn “Kol Slaven”, also known as “How Glorious is our Lord in Zion” by Dmitry Bortniansky was an unofficial national anthem of Russia for 22 years. Before the revolution, it was played twice every day from the Kremlin bell tower. The song was widely adapted and interpreted in the West and gained also immense popularity among freemasons. It continues to be popular to this day.

1816-1833

The Prayer of the Russians
Молитва русских / Molitva Russkikh

Music: Unknown author
Lyrics: Vasily Zhukovsky
After having defeated Napoleon, Tsar Alexander I decided that Russia needs a proper national anthem. From 1816 the British anthem “God Save the King” was used and new lyrics were provided by Vasily Zhukovsky, Russia’s most prominent poet and personal tutor of the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna of Prussia and the future Tsar Alexander II.

1833-1917

God, Save the Tsar
Боже, Царя Храни / Bozhe, Tsarya Khrani

Music: Alexey Lvov
Lyrics: Vasily Zhukovsky
In 1833 Tsar Nicholas I ordered the court composer Count Alexey Lvov to write a piece to replace the old anthem that shared melody with Great Britain. After some difficulties in the beginning, Alexey Lvov managed to write a splendid composition in one night’s burst of inspiration. Zhukovsky’s verses were adapted by Alexander Pushkin and the composition was premiered on 18 December 1833 in Bolshoi Theatre. The Emperor had tears in his eyes. The song became the first original Russian anthem and with Zhukovsky’s 8 lines of poetry it was the world’s shortest anthem at the time.

1917-1918

The Worker’s Marseillaise
Рабочая Марсельез / Rabochaya Marsel’eza

Music: Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Lyrics: Pyotr Lavrov
“La Marseillaise”, a revolutionary song that became the national anthem of France, also gained popularity in Russia. Here a narodnik philosopher and publicist Pyotr Lavrov wrote original Russian lyrics that became the “Worker’s Marseillaise”. The verse was published on 1 July 1875. The song was very popular during the Revolution of 1905. After the February Revolution, it was adopted as an official anthem of Russia by the Provisional Government.

1918-1944

The Internationale
Интернационал / Internatsional

Music: Pierre de Geyter
Lyrics: Eugene Pottier, translation by Arkady Kots
As the definitive song of the socialist movement around the world since the 1880s, “The Internationale” was of particular importance in Revolutionary Russia. Russian poet Arkady Kots translated the lyrics into Russian and it was published in the 1902 edition of the Zizn journal. The text was slightly re-written in details after the October Revolution to replace the future tense with the present. It was used as an official anthem until 1944.

1944-1955

National Anthem of the Soviet Union” (Stalin Version)
Государственный гимн СССР /
Gosudarstvenny Gimn SSSR

Music: Alexander Alexandrov
Lyrics: Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan
When the Comintern was dissolved in 1943, there was need for a new patriotic anthem and a contest was announced by Stalin. Among the many contestants, Stalin chose Alexander Alexandrov’s composition. Among other contestants were also Shostakovich and Khachaturian. Stalin was initially critical about the orchestration and after some corrections Alexandrov’s anthem was first aired on the radio at midnight on 1 January 1944. It was decreed the official anthem on 15 March 1944. The new anthem was widely popular.

1955-1977

National Anthem of the Soviet Union” (Instrumental Version)
Государственный гимн СССР /
Gosudarstvenny Gimn SSSR

Music: Alexander Alexandrov
After the de-Stalinization campaign by Nikita Khrushchev it was not appropriate to sing “and Stalin our Leader with faith in the People” anymore. The anthem’s lyrics were dropped completely and it was played as an instrumental piece for 22 years.

1977-1991

National Anthem of the Soviet Union
Государственный гимн СССР /
Gosudarstvenny Gimn SSSR

Music: Alexander Alexandrov
Lyrics: Sergey Mikhalkov
Sergey Mikhalkov wrote a set of new lyrics already in 1970 but these were not approved until 1 September 1977. The new lyrics without any mention of Stalin were then published along with the new Soviet constitution on the 60th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

1991-2000

Patriotic Song
Патриотическая песня / Patrioticheskaya Pesnya

Music: Mikhail Glinka
With the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse there was a need to get rid of the soviet past and look for new state symbols. Instead of being advised to restore the Imperial anthem, Boris Yeltsin chose “Patriotic Song”, a piano piece by Mikhail Glinka that had been found posthumously. The song was adopted as the new anthem in November 1990 and confirmed in 1993. Despite several attempts, the song never had official lyrics. A popular contest was won by Viktor Radugin’s “Be glorious, Russia”, but it was never officially used.

2000-

National Anthem of Russian Federation
Государственный гимн Российской Федерации /
Gosudarstvenny Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii

Music: Alexander Alexandrov
Lyrics: Sergey Mikhalkov
The majority of Russians found “Patriotic Song” uninspiring. So did many sportsmen, like the football players of Spartak, who were complaining that the lyricless anthem will fail to insipire “great patriotic effort”. On 8 December 2000 the old Alexandrov anthem was restored by the orders of Vladimir Putin. New lyrics were commissioned from Sergey Mikhalkov and the title was changed.

Here you can find all ten anthems in one playlist

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