September 01, 2003

The Cost of Conscience

Alexander Galich (real name – Ginzburg), actor, playwright and poet, died in exile in Paris in 1977. His early death was brought on by a tragic accident – he was electrocuted while trying to fix a stereo system – and he was buried at Sainte- Genevieve-des-Bois cemetery, alongside other famous Russians who died far from their homeland – Ivan Bunin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Viktor Nekrasov and Andrei Tarkovsky. The inscription on his black tombstone reads: “Blessed are those banished for the sake of the truth.”

Alexander Ginzburg was born on October 19, 1918, into the family of an economist and a musician. He inherited his mother’s passion for theatre and music and entered the Literary Institute, joining Konstantin Stanislavsky’s Studio of Opera and Drama the same year.

From the 1940s to the middle of the 1960s, Galich’s name was primarily associated with plays and film scripts. He had a heart condition which prevented him from going to the front, but he saw the horrors of World War II while giving concerts in hospital trains for the wounded. By the 1950s, Galich had become a successful and popular playwright and was admitted to the Unions of Soviet Writers and Cinematographers. He wrote scripts for various films, including the comedy Reliable Friends, and the WWII film In the Seven Winds.

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