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Soviet composer Yevgeny Krylatov dies, leaving behind beloved children’s songs about polar bears, snowflakes, and bright futures

Source: Meduza

Yevgeny Krylatov passed away on May 8 at 86 years of age. Krylatov was one of the Soviet Union’s best-known film composers, and he wrote scores for more than 160 movies and cartoons. Many of them have since become classics. Meduza remembers a few of Krylatov’s most beloved works.

Yevgeny Krylatov was born in 1934 to a working-class family in the town of Lysva, Perm Oblast. He graduated from a music school and a professional institute in the Urals, and in the 1950s, he enrolled in two departments simultaneously at the Moscow Conservatory. Early on, he composed a range of symphonic music, scoring the Bolshoi Theater’s production of the ballet A Seven-Colored Flower as well as the classic plays The Minor and Woe from Wit for the Maly Theater.

Krylatov first gained widespread recognition when he began working in cinema, especially after the release of two 1969 cartoons, one about a bear cub named Umka and one about Grandfather Frost’s journey in search of summer.

“A Mama Bear’s Lullaby”
“A Song about Summer” (from “Grandfather Frost and the Summer”)

Krylatov also wrote a number of songs for feature-length movies in collaboration with the poet Yury Entin. They include “A Song about Summer” and “Deer in the Forest,” which Aida Vedishcheva performed in the 1972 children’s film Oh, Nastya!

“Deer in the Forest” (from “Oh, Nastya!”)

Andrey Mironov’s swashbuckling antics in the adventure film Pride of the Republic is also a product of the Krylatov-Entin partnership.

“A Song about the Sword” (from “Pride of the Republic”)

The musical comedy Sorcerers, which was written by the Strugatsky brothers and aired on Soviet television at the close of 1982, featured several hits by Yevgeny Krylatov with lyrics by Leonid Derbenyev. They included Larisa Dolina’s performance of “Three White Horses” and a performance of “A Song about a Snowflake” by Olga Rozhdestvenskaya and the Dobry Molodtsy ensemble. Both songs still pop up often in covers and karaoke to this day.

“Three White Horses” (1982), Larisa Dolina
Odessa Film Studio
“A Song about a Snowflake” (1982), Olga Rozhdestvenskaya
Odessa Film Studio

Another of Krylatov’s best-loved accomplishments is a Soviet animated trilogy about the adventures of a boy called Uncle Fyodor, Matroskin the cat, and Sharik the dog in the village of Prostokvashino. Many Russian speakers still remember Valentina Tolkunova’s performance as Uncle Fyodor’s mother.

“If There Were No Winter” (from “Winter in Prostokvashino”)

Konstantin Bromberg’s The Adventures of Elektronic, in which a robot takes over a schoolboy’s responsibilities and both must suffer the consequences, might be the single most important film in the Soviet children’s oeuvre. Krylatov composed one of his most beautiful and most famous melodies, “Winged Swings,” for the beloved sci-fi production.

“Winged Swings” (from “The Adventures of Elektronic,” 1979”)
Rosa Makagonova

Serezhka Syroyezhkin’s song “What Has Progress Come To?” was written for the same film. In 1982, the team behind The Adventures of Elektronic were awarded a national prize.

“What Has Progress Come To?” (1979)
Odessa Film Studio

Another example of the heights Yevgeny Krylatov’s creativity reached is “The Lovely Far-Away,” which accompanied the credits to the 1985 fantasy miniseries A Guest from the Future. The series was based on a story by Kir Bulychov in which a girl from the communist utopian future and a boy from the Soviet present trade places in time. Alisa Selezneva, the film’s protagonist, became a cult figure for an entire generation of Soviet children thanks to Natalya Guseva’s performance — as did Krylatov’s song itself.

The Children’s Choir of the USSR, “The Lovely Far-Away”
Denis Beloslyudov

Memories by Alexander Filimonov

Translation by Hilah Kohen

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