Music and the Revolution

This, our first musical item in the exhibition, contains two brief pieces – Funeral march and Boldly, comrades, in step…  Produced in 1918 by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets, the pamphlet (a single folded sheet) was designed to inspire the Red forces.  The powerful image shown here, from the pamphlet’s front cover, shows a freed Russia leading troops and waving her broken chains and red flag.

The item provides the music and words for both pieces.  Each piece in fact dates to before the October Revolution, but the desire for revolution and the willingness to risk one’s life for it come across clearly.  The funeral march (to be sung expressivo) describes in its sixth verse the despot feasting in his luxurious palace, drowning his worry in wine – but the hand of fate is already putting the writing on the wall.  Written by Leonid Radin in a tsarist prison in the late 1890s, Boldly, comrades, in step… (to be sung andante) promises that our forces need not fear the illusory strength of the tsars.

Pokhoronnyĭ marshʺ i ‘Smėlo, tovarishchi, vʺ nogu.. (1918) CCB.54.215

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