Farewell of Slavianca

Farewell Slavianka is a Russian patriotic march, written by composer Vasily Agapkin, who was trumpet-major in the marching band of the 7th Cavalry Regiment in Tambov. The melody premiered in Tambov at the end of 1912. Originally the melody was only instrumental, but afterwards various lyrics have been added. It is said that the melody was inspired by the Russian march "Yearning for the motherland", or that it originated from an old folk anti-war song during the Russo-Japanese War.

It is for certain that the melody refers to Bulgarian women during the First Balkan War against the Ottoman Turks. Possibly it is written in memory of these women saying farewell to their departing husbands. At least, that is what the title could let us think. But though these women were important to their folks, in the same war there were other women in Bulgaria who helped the soldiers at the frontline. Some sources say that the melody was written in honour of them. As there is nothing to be found in history books about women fighting side by side with their husbands, this can be a reason to think that the song might refer to the organisation WSWTC (Women's Sick and Wounded Convoy Troops) that was founded to help soldiers at the front and that had its first mission in Bulgaria during the First Balkan War.
In 1912 the WSWCT provided help for Bulgarian soldiers, in spite the negative advice of the Red Cross which considered that there was no work fitted for women in the Balkans. After a seven-day wagon trek over the Rhadope Mountains, accompanied by soldiers and fleeing civilians, three female doctors, six trained nurses and six assistents volunteered to establish a hospital at Kirk Kilisse close to the fighting, in order to aid wounded soldiers. Their effort was welcomed by the Bulgarian queen, Eleonora, a trained nurse who had tended to wounded soldiers during the Russo-Japanese War. Following the end of the First Balkan War, the WSWCT was disbanded. The three doctors however stayed to continue their work with the ill and wounded soldiers.

After this it was agreed that women are capable of taking a serviceable share in warfare. In 1914 the WNSL (Women's National Service League) was founded. This organisation provided help and care for wounded soldiers in WW I.
Farewell to Slavianka was published in an official collection of music for Red Army orchestras, so it is unlikely that, as some sources do mention, it was banned in the Soviet Union due to associations with the tsarist regime and the counter-revolutionary movements. Several Russian and Polish musicians wrote lyrics for the music. 
During World War II the melody became popular in Poland with an adapted underground version of the song (Weeping willows began to hum).

In 1957 "Farewell of Slavianka" was used for the first time in movies in the film "The cranes are flying", it also appeared in the film "Charlie Wilson's war" and in the Russian movie "72 meters".
In the 1990s the Yabloko party lobbied for the march to be adopted as the National Anthem of Russia, without success. Nowadays the march is recognized as the Anthem of the Tambov Oblast. 
And another small thing worth to know: ships cruising along the Volga and the Rossiya train make use of the tune before departing.
In the next clips "Farewell of Slavianka" is performed firstly in the original march tempo, secondly in a walz tempo
Sources: Women and War, by Bernard A. Cook
              http://www.tstu.ru/en/tambov/kultur/composer/agap/agap.htm;  http://bearinahat.blogspot.be/2013/12/farewell-of-slavianka.html
              http://videosift.com/video/The-USSR-Farewell-of-Slavianka;  http://russmus.net/song/5210; 
Russian lyrics

Наступает минута прощания,
Ты глядишь мне тревожно в глаза,
И ловлю я родное дыхание,
А вдали уже дышит гроза.

Дрогнул воздух туманный и синий,
И тревога коснулась висков,
И зовет нас на подвиг Россия,
Веет ветром от шага полков.

Прощай, отчий край,
Ты нас вспоминай,
Прощай, милый взгляд,
Прости-прощай, прости-прощай...

Летят, летят года,
Уходят во мглу поезда,
А в них? солдаты.
И в небе темном
Горит солдатская звезда.

А в них? солдаты.
И в небе темном
Горит солдатская звезда.

Прощай, отчий край,
Ты нас вспоминай,
Прощай, милый взгляд,
Прости-прощай, прости-прощай...

Лес да степь, да в степи полустанки.
Свет вечерней и новой зари?
Не забудь же прощанье Славянки,
Сокровенно в душе повтори!

Нет, не будет душа безучастна?
Справедливости светят огни...
За любовь, за великое братство
Отдавали мы жизни свои.

Прощай, отчий край,
Ты нас вспоминай,
Прощай, милый взгляд,
Не все из нас придут назад.

Летят, летят года,
А песня? ты с нами всегда:
Тебя мы помним,
И в небе темном
Горит солдатская звезда.

Прощай, отчий край,
Ты нас вспоминай,
Прощай, милый взгляд,
Прости-прощай, прости-прощай...

English lyrics

The moment of parting is near
You are anxiously looking at me
I feel you dear breath,
And from far the thunderstorm is approaching.

The blue, misty air has trembled
Anxiety has touched my temples,
Russia calls us to a feat,
Regiments are passing by.

Farewell, Motherland,
Remember us.
Farewell, pretty eyes,
Forgive-farewell, Forgive-farewell...

Years are flying fast,
Trains disappear in the dark.
In them? the soldiers.
And in the dark sky
The soldier's star is shining.

In them? the soldiers.
And in the dark sky
The soldier's star is shining.

Farewell, Motherland,
Remember us.
Farewell, pretty eyes,
Forgive-farewell, Forgive-farewell...

Forests and steppe, junctions stand in the steppe
Light evening and a new dawn?
Don't forget the Slavyanka's farewell,
Repeat it to yourself in your soul!

No, there is no soul indifferent?
The lights of justice shine...
For love, for the great brotherhood
We have given our lives.

Farewell, Motherland,
Remember us.
Farewell, pretty eyes,
Not all of us shall return.

Years fly by,
And the song ? your are always with us.
We remember you,
And in the dark sky
The soldier's star is shining.

Farewell, Motherland,
Remember us.
Farewell, dear pretty eyes,
Forgive-farewell, Forgive-farewell...

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