«Victory Day»: history of the legendary song

«Victory Day» is the most beloved, truly folk song about the war. It has long ago become an unofficial anthem of the Great Victory. 

It is not surprising that the piercingly sincere words of this song were written by a person who himself went through the whole war from the first days. The author of the words of the song “Victory Day” Vadim Kharitonov was a front-line soldier, fought in the infantry and cavalry. He was wounded, awarded with 3 military orders and medals. He met the Victory in the rank of foreman. 

Despite the fact that «Victory day» is inextricably associated with May 1945, this song was written only 30 years after the war. It was born by the creative duet of Vladimir Kharitonov and the young composer David Tukhmanov in the spring of 1975.

Unfortunately, the path of “Victory Day” towards national success turned out to be thorny. At first, the song faced with criticism and rejection from official authorities. The members of the commission of the Union of Composers of the USSR, before which it was first performed, disclosed in the music notes of a frivolous bourgeois foxtrot incompatible with the heroism of Soviet soldiers. (By the way, the first performer of the song became the poetess Tatyana Sashko, the wife of composer D. Tukhmanov) After that, “Victory Day” was actually banned, and there was no question of any performance of the song on radio, television or in official concerts.

The situation was saved by the young singer Lev Leshchenko, who will become in the future one of the leading figures of the national pop scene. “Victory Day” owes him its second birth in fact. 

Lev Valeryanovich learned about the “disgraced” song from a call from the editor of the Yunost radio station, Evgeny Shirokov in April 1975: “There is an amazing song! You need to rewrite it! ”

Leshchenko liked the song right away. He quickly made an arrangement and very soon sang it at his solo concert in Alma-Ata. The success was amazing: the audience literally exploded with applause and did not want to let go of the artist for a long time. 

Nevertheless, at first Lev Valeryanovich was not allowed to perform “Victory Day” at official "government" concerts. And then he decided on a trick.

In the fall of the same year, at a rehearsal of the Kremlin concert for Police Day, the artist proposed to listen to a new song to the almighty General Yuri Churbanov, who was the head of the political department of the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the son-in-law of Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev.

After many years, Lev Leshchenko recalled how impressed Churbanov was with “Victory Day”:  

“Listen, awesome song. Let close the concert by it” - Churbanov said after the performance.“Well, you understand, it’s actually banned behind the scenes,” Leshchenko warned and heard in response what he was counting on: “This is our holiday, no problem,” the general said - “Sing.”

In November 10, 1975 “Victory Day” was heard and instantly loved by the whole country: the concert for the Police Day was broadcasted live from the Kremlin on central television and all-Union radio. From this day, the triumphal procession of the song began, which became popularly beloved. Soon, it was awarded with the Song-75 Prize, and then the Song-76 Prize. In 1976, “Victory Day” was heard in the cult film of actor and director Leonid Bykov, “Aty-bats, soldiers were coming ...”.

One day, at a reception in the Kremlin immediately after the military parade on Red Square on May 9, Leonid Brezhnev told the author of the song, Vladimir Kharitonov: "We will pass away, Volodya, but the people will sing your song."

And so it happened!

Today, without the sounds of “Victory Day”, we cannot imagine the holiday of May 9: it stayed forever in the soul and heart of each of us. For almost 45 years, this legendary song has been continuously performed by the national artist of Russia Lev Leshchenko: it’s second (or rather, third) father.