May 01, 2002

Musical Poet of the 60s

Poet Robert Rozhdestvensky (1932-1994), a cult figure of Soviet and Russian poetry, would have been 70 years old on June 20.

A provincial boy who initially enrolled in the Philological Faculty at the Karelian University in Petrozavodsk, Rozhdestvensky later moved to the Moscow Literary Institute. He graduated from the institute in the middle of the “Thaw” of 1956 and quickly joined the ranks of young and promising Soviet poets, which included Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky and Bella Akhmadulina. The young poets would gather at famous poetry reading evenings in Moscow’s Polytechnical Museum and read their works to a rapt audience.

Rozhdestvensky’s poems were infused with patriotic themes and he became especially famous after the publication of his “Requiem” in 1961. The poem was written in memory of those who fell on the front in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and was put to music by composer Dmitry Kabalevsky.

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