Russian romance

Russian romance or Russian Gypsy song (Russian: рома́нс románs) is a type of sentimental sung poetry with hints of Gypsy influence that was developed in Imperial Russia by such composers as Alexander Alyabyev (1787–1851), Alexander Varlamov (1801–48), and Alexander Gurilyov (1803–58).[1]

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By the early 20th century, several types of the Russian romance had emerged. An elite type of the Italianate opera-influenced song known as the "salon romance" is contrasted to the lower-class genre of "cruel romance" which features "senitimental courtship, illicit love, pained rejection, and often suicide".[2] The latter is supposed to have given birth to the Russian chanson.

The Russian romance had its heyday in the 1910s and 1920s when the top performers included Anastasia Vyaltseva, Varvara Panina, Nadezhda Plevitskaya, Tamara Tsereteli, Pyotr Leshchenko, and Alexander Vertinsky. In the early Soviet era the genre was less favoured, as it was seen as a vestige of the pre-revolutionary "decadent and bourgeois" sensibility through much of the 20th century.[3]

Russian romance in the 21st century
Concert by Margarita Korneyeva (2015)
video icon The night is bright (Ночь светла) on YouTube

A new generation of singers, such as Valentina Ponomaryova and Nani Bregvadze, emerged in the 1970s. Several vocalists from the pre-WWII era, including Izabella Yurieva (1902–2000), Vadim Kozin (1903–1994) and Alla Bayanova (1914–2011), also returned to prominence in the late Soviet years. Alexander Malinin, Sergey Zakharov and Oleg Pogudin are among the Russian romance singers active in the 21st century. In 1994, . Alexander Malinin received the World Music Award as best selling Russian artist.[4]

César Cui's 1895 book Russian Art Song: A Study of Its Development was translated in J.R. Walker’s Classical Essays on the Development of Russian Art Songs (Northfield, MN, 1993).

Notable songsEdit


  1. ^ Art and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Russia (ed. Theofanis George Stavrou). Indiana University Press, 1983. ISBN 9780253310514. Page 75.
  2. ^ Entertaining Tsarist Russia: Tales, Songs, Plays, Movies, Jokes, Ads, and Images from Russian Urban Life, 1779–1917. Indiana University Press, 1998. ISBN 9780253211958. Page xxii.
  3. ^ David MacFadyen. Songs for Fat People: Affect, Emotion, and Celebrity in the Russian Popular Song, 1900–1955. McGill-Queens University Press, 2002. ISBN 9780773524415. Page 13.
  4. ^ Smith, Michael (June 2003). "Stalin's Martyrs: The Tragic Romance of the Russian Revolution". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 4 (1): 95–126. doi:10.1080/14690760412331326098. ISSN 1469-0764.

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