Stenka Razin

This Russian folk song tells about Stepan (Stenka) Timofeyevich Razin, who lived from 1630 till 16th of June 1671.

Stepan Razin was mentioned in history for the first time in 1661, as part of a diplomatic mission from the Don Cossacks to the Kalmyks. In the same year, Razin went on a long-distance pelgrimage to the great Solotevsky Monastery on the White Sea, for the benefits of his soul. Then, for six years, every trace of him is lost. As he appeared again, he was the leader of a robber community.

As life was hard in Russia, because of the wars with Poland and Sweden, many peasents joined Razin's marouding Cossacks. Others, who were disaffected with the Russian government, as well as representatives of non-russian ethnic groups also joined Razin's people. Razin reportedly said: I shall nobody force to join me, but whoever chooses to come with me, shall be a free Cossack. I have come to fight the boyards and the wealthy lords. As for the poor and plain folk, I shall treat them as brothers". This vision formed his strength, people believed in him.

Razin, originally set out to loot villages, became a symbol of peasant unrest, his movement turned political. He wanted to protect the independance of the Cossacks and to protest an increasing centralized government. The Cossacks supported the tsar and autocracy, but they wanted a tsar that responded to the needs of the people and not just to the needs of the upper class.
By destroying and pillaging villages, Razin intended to take power from the government officials and give more autonomy to the peasants. However, Razin's movement failed and the rebellion led to increased government control. The Cossacks lost some of their autonomy and the tsar bonded more closely with the upper class, because both feared more rebellion. On the other hand Razin's revolt awakened the social consciousness of the poor, it gave them a new sense of power and made the upper class tremble for their lives and possessions.

Stenka Razin is the hero of the popular Russian folk song "Ponozovaya Volnitsa", better known by the words "Volga, Volga mat' rodnaya". The melody is also known as "Stenka Razin". The lyrics were written by Dmitri Sadovnikov in 1883. The song gave the title to the famous Soviet musical comedy "Volga - Volga". In the West the melody was used by Tom Springfield in the song "The carnival is over", that placed The Seekers at no 1 in Australia and England.
Stenka Razin was also the title of the first Russian silent dramatic film, produced by Aleksandr Drankov. This film was his answer to the fact that his first seventeen actualities failed to get serious attention in early 1908. Extensive promotion ensured the film's commercial success and launched Drankov's career as a producer.

Click here to download the score to Stenka Razin

              Russian Folk Songs: Musical Genres and History, by Vadim Prokhorov
Russian text
Из-за острова на стрежень,
На простор речной волны,
Выплывают расписные,
Острогрудые челны.

На переднем Стенька Разин,
Обнявшись, сидит с княжной,
Свадьбу новую справляет,
Сам веселый и хмельной.

Позади их слышен ропот:
Нас на бабу променял!
Только ночь с ней провозился
Сам наутро бабой стал . . . .

Этот ропот и насмешки
Слышит грозный атаман,
И могучею рукою
Обнял персиянки стан.

Брови черные сошлися,
Надвигается гроза.
Буйной кровью налилися
Атамановы глаза.

"Ничего не пожалею,
Буйну голову отдам!" --
Раздаётся голос властный
По окрестным берегам.

"Волга, Волга, мать родная,
Волга, русская река,
Не видала ты подарка
От донского казака!

Чтобы не было раздора
Между вольными людьми,
Волга, Волга, мать родная,
На, красавицу возьми!"

Мощным взмахом поднимает
Он красавицу княжну
И за борт ее бросает
В набежавшую волну.

"Что ж вы, братцы, приуныли?
Эй, ты, Филька, черт, пляши!
Грянем песню удалую
На помин ее души!.."

Из-за острова на стрежень,
На простор речной волны,
Выплывают расписные
Острогрудые челны.
Iz-za ostrova na strezhen',
Na prostor rechnoy volny,
Vyplyvayut raspisnye,
Ostrogrudye chelny.

Na perednem Sten'ka Razin,
Obnyavshis', sidit s knyazhnoy,
Svad'bu novuyu spravlyaet,
Sam veselyi i khmel'noy.

Pozadi ikh slyschen ropot:
Nas na babu promenyal!
Tol'ko noch' s nej provozilsja
Sam nautro baboy stal . . . .

Etot ropot i nasmeshki
Slyshit groznyi ataman,
I mogucheju rukoju
Obnjal persijanki stan.

Brovi chornye soshlisya,
Nadvigaetsya groza.
Buynoy krov'yu nalilisya
Atamanovy glaza.

"Nichevo ne pozhaleyu,
Bujnu golovu otdam!" --
Razdayotsya golos vlastnyi
Po okrestnym beregam.

"Volga, Volga, mat' rodnaya,
Volga, russkaya reka,
Ne vidala ty podarka
Ot donskovo kazaka!

Shtoby ne bylo razdora
Mezhdu vol'nymi ljud'mi,
Volga, Volga, mat' rodnaja,
Na, krasavitsu voz'mi!"

Moshchnym vzmakhom podnimaet
On krasavitsu knyazhnu
I za bort eyo brosaet
V nabezhavshuyu volnu.

"Shto zh vy, bratsy, priunyli?
Ej, ty, Fil'ka, chert, pljashi!
Grjanem pesnyu udaluyu
Na pomin ee dushi!.."

Iz-za ostrova na strezhen',
Na prostor rechnoy volny,
Vyplyvajut raspisnye
Ostrogrudiye chelny.

English text
From beyond the wooded island
To the river wide and free
Proudly sailed the arrow-breasted
Ships of Cossack yeomanry.

On the first is Stenka Razin
With his princess by his side
Drunken holds in marriage revels
With his beauteous young bride

From behind there comes a murmur
"He has left his sword to woo;
One short night and Stenka Razin
Has become a woman, too."

Stenka Razin hears the murmur
Of his discontented band
And his lovely Persian princess
He has circled with his hand.

His dark brows are drawn together
As the waves of anger rise;
And the blood comes rushing swiftly
To his piercing jet black eyes.

"I will give you all you ask for
Head and heart and life and hand."
And his voice rolls out like thunder
Out across the distant land.

Volga, Volga, Mother Volga
Wide and deep beneath the sun,
You have never seen such a present
From the Cossacks of the Don.

So that peace may reign forever
In this band so free and brave
Volga, Volga, Mother Volga
Make this lovely girl a grave.

Now, with one swift mighty motion
He has raised his bride on high
And has cast her where the waters
Of the Volga roll and sigh.

"Dance, you fools, and let's be merry
What is this that's in your eyes?
Let us thunder out a chanty
To the place where beauty lies."

From beyond the wooded island
To the river wide and free
Proudly sailed the arrow-breasted
Ships of Cossack yeomanry.
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