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Pachelbel, the wedding artist

His masterpiece Canon in D dominates the wedding industry. It is the one piece of classical music that is extremely popular, and everyone has heard it. However, who is the artist behind it? It was Johann Pachelbel, the prodigy of Nuremberg, who showed his talent and passion at a young age. In addition, He received his early musical training from local organists and music teachers.

Financial hardship and education

In an attempt to enhance his education, he enrolled in the University of Altdorf. However, like many today, Pachelbel was not immune from financial hardships. Consequently, he left the school due to economic reasons. However, determined to educate himself, Pachelbel enrolled in the Gymnasium Poeticum in Regensburg with a scholarship. To further his skills in the craft, he also studied music outside the school.

Diversity in style

His mentor outside of school was Kaspar Prentz, a student of Johann Caspar Kerll, who absorbed the style of the Italian composers of his time. Evidently, Kasper had an influence on Pachelbel’s musical style. In addition, He spent five years in Vienna as an organist and a student of Catholic organ music that widespread in Southern Germany and Italy. His work “Musikalische Ergötzung” suggests he knew French music as he incorporated French overtures and movements into the piece.

The Bach family

Johann became close with the Bach family. Ambrosius Bach (father of the famous Bach) asked Pachelbel to be the godfather of his daughter, Johanna Juditha Bach. Pachelbel tutored Johann Christoph Bach and later trained his young brother, the famous Johann Sebastian Bach. This indirect influence seemed to have affected Bach’s music in his early years.

The wedding artist

Pachelbel had a significant influence on the pupils who studied under him, including his son Charles Theodore. Charles would be one of the first composers to immigrate to the early American colonies and influence American choral music. Oddly, his most significant impact would be on pop music, not something common for classical artists. His piece Canon in D would be played by French conductor Jean-François Paillard, giving the piece rising popularity. American and European bands such as Aphrodite’s Child, Pop-Tops, and Parliament would later incorporate the piece and play it to their audiences. It was later recorded on classical music albums and achieved the most significant sales of classical albums. Today it is widely played in weddings and celebrations, making it the top choice for those occasions.

Photo – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0655341/

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A prodigy of classical music

His name doesn’t hit a bell for a lot of people when thinking about classical music. But Georg Philipp Telemann is an essential name in the baroque era. Georg grew up in a family of clergymen with solid ties to the Lutheran Church. As a young boy, he showed exceptional musical ability and became acquainted with a local organist to learn the craft. He mastered a couple of instruments and composed an opera by the age of ten.

Diversion from family

If not for his fierce determination, Georg could have ended up in the clergy or law school. However, against his family’s advice (especially the maternal side), he pursued a music career. Telemann went to Leipzig University to study law but found a way to utilize his musical talents to good use. He created the Student Collegium Musicum, a college student music club that will lay the foundation of his contribution to the world of classical music. During his time at the University, Georg gave public concerts and wrote opera pieces for the college theater. He eventually became a music director and an organist.

Diversity in classical music

Georg did not stay in school for too long. He accepted a position as Kapellmeister (German for conductor) in the Count Erdmann II court at Zary (a western Polish Town). He came in contact with different styles, such as French, Italian and Polish, which he incorporated into his craft. This would have a large influence on his work. However, Telemann later had to go back to Germany after an invasion by the Swedish army that disbanded his workplace.

The best years ahead

Georg’s best years come from Frankfurt’s experience, where his talents influenced the city’s music scene. His productivity was at his highest, and so was his entrepreneurial energy. He has published much of his music during this time while working as a director for the city. During this stage of his career, he composed and performed secular ceremonies and religious and choral chamber music.

Influence on classical music

Telemann had a significant influence on the world of classical music. His success’s main drivers appear to be the natural talent that he found as a young boy and his business and networking skills. Aside from his published artistic work, Telemann also published other musicals that were lessons intended for amateurs for practice. He also created a subscription model for his publications that doubled his income. When it comes to his network, Telemann knew much of the classical music giants of his time: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frideric Handel. His network, as well his talent and his business mindset, no doubt made his music influential alive as well as after his passing.

Photo – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Georg-Philipp-Telemann

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Organ Boss: Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach grew up in modern-day Germany in a family of musicians. Being proficient in organ, one of his uncles, Johann Christoph Bach, introduced him to the instrument. Bach studied the greats his time and learned to master the organ. He later excelled in various musical disciplines such as counterpoint, which gained him a lot of fame later on.

The Beginning


After graduating from St. Michael, he was turned down for a job. But he later found an opportunity at the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst III in Weimar. He built a reputation as a keyboardist giving him a chance to specialize in the organ while working for the New Church (Now called Bach Church) in Arnstadt.

Being short-tempered and competitive, he mocked a choir student once for not living up to his standard. The student became angry and started chasing Back with a stick. The authorities gave the student a pass and demanded more leniency from Bach.

Jail time


Bach later worked as an organ composer for Weimar’s city-state, where he collaborated with professional musicians. He borrowed and employed styles from the icons of early baroque and classical music such as Vivaldi, Torelli, and Corelli.

His title, while working at the city of Weimar, was director of music. However, his employer did not appreciate his talents. That resulted in passing him over to promote someone else (Wihelm Drese Junior), who he disliked. He was frustrated but managed to get a position of Kapellmeister (which is a leader for sacral or choral chamber) in the state of Anhalt-Cöthen. He submitted his resignation but encountered another issue.

The final years


At that time, a composer did not simply hand over their resignation letter and quit. The Prince of Weimar hired and fired his musicians at his preferred timing. Bach went to jail as a result of his efforts at departing. However, Bach refused to give to the Prince’s demands. The Prince angrily fired him and released him of his duties.


Rather than working on religious choral music, Bach composed secular musical pieces in compliance with Prince Leopold’s wishes. The Prince was a Calvinist and did not want the use of music in worship. He would later compose and perform choral cantatas in his later years while working in Leipzig, inspired by his Gospel readings every Sunday.


His years at Leipzig resulted in his promotion to Court Composer’s title. During this time, he began the publication of his organ music. While not achieving the recognition it deserved at its time, his music was innovative in its harmony, employing an unusual mix of chords and progression. His work in sacral and choral music was evidence of his religious devotion, which influenced his style. His reputation, however, was for his mastery of the organ and his creativity in organ music, including mixing foreign Italian styles with his work.

Photo – https://www.biography.com/musician/johann-sebastian-bach

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Best Band Manager

Born in 1910 as Arthur Arshawsky, Artie Shaw grew up in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He faced antisemitism from the locals as a youngster. The hostilities caused him to be introverted and develop interests in music. He was attracted to the saxophone but switched to the clarinet at a later age. Despite his developed skills in music, his local band leader did not hire him because he couldn’t sight-read music. Shaw went away to learn sight-reading and was back in a month. He soon quit school to play tour on the road full time.

Talented band manager

At the beginning, Artie was a performer who worked with many bands and orchestras. He earned a good reputation as a director and arranger of bands and orchestras. He worked as a studio musician, in which he performed commercial music that he often didn’t like. However, he was handsomely paid during the height of the Depression. One of his musical projects was hiring Billie Holiday (an African American singer) for his band and touring the South. During a time of segregation, this was a significant move. He was one of the first white musicians to break the racial barriers at the time. During the peak of his career, he was earning $60,000 per week, which in today’s dollars would be about $600,000.

When the Second World War broke out, he enlisted in the US Navy and formed a band during his military service. He used his talent in entertaining Navy personnel of the Pacific theater to raise the troop morale. However, due to performing multiple events a day, Antie came to a state of physical exhaustion and received a medical discharge.

Innovation

Two tendencies defined his career in music. His major talent was his ability to form and manage a band to produce widely loved records. He was much like a serial entrepreneur; he would create a band, develop the band to produce songs that would satisfy the audiences of the time, and then disband the group. His second tendency was his unorthodox taste in music and his inclination to innovate with the themes of his time. An example of this is when he gained attention for his “Interlude in B-flat” at a swing concert at the Imperial Theater in New York. It received great ratings by combing elements of swing jazz and classical music. But because the sound was not commercial, Artie dissolved the band.

Retirement

The commercial aspect was one thing that Shaw did not love about the music business. He found commercial music to be boring and was not passionate about his work. He didn’t get to make the music that he wanted; instead, he had to play the music that others wanted. In combination with his distaste for fame and celebrity status, this fact made him quit the show business in 1954. He focused his energy on writing, which he loved a lot. But he did involve himself in some musical side projects.

Artie is example of someone who succeeded in something he didn’t love. He tried to retire from the music business three times as it did not seem to fulfill his desire for innovation. Yet, he still succeeded at it with his skill, hard work, and his ability to form successful bands. While he did retire early, his work was significant as his fans often called him at the time “The King of Clarinet.”

Photo – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Artie_Shaw_(Gottlieb_07771).jpg

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Sisters in music and war

Between the years of 1911 and 1918, in the small town of Mound, Minnesota, the Andrews Sisters were born. They were to become one of the most popular blues and swing band groups in America. Patty, LaVerne, and Maxene started their musical journey when they were relatively young, winning their first prize for a talent contest at a local theater in Minneapolis.

Humble beginnings

When their father’s restaurant failed and collapsed, the Andrews Sisters started performing on the road to support their family. Inspired by the likes of Boswell Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, and Mel Torme, they began to imitate their style and worked hard on their craft until they laded their first major success with “Bei Mir Bist Schön,” an originally Yiddish song that sold 350,000 copies. That song became the first spot on the Billboards and earned the Sisters their celebrity status.

The war years

During the height of their popularity, the Second World War broke out. During the war, they continued producing songs and records that often had military-style themes. The Andrew Sisters performed
their hits in military-themed comedy films such as Private Buckaroo and Bick Privates. Like other artists of their time, they entertained the troops, both inside the United States by visiting US military bases and outside the homeland, in Africa and Italy, often in war zones, hospitals, and munition factories.

Their most critical work for the war is performing Irving Berlin’s “Any Bonds Today?” which helped encourage citizens to purchase war bonds to support the war effort. They often treated random service members to dinner while they were on tour. The band also volunteered to help establish the Hollywood Canteen (a retreat for service members) while also performing and dancing with the servicemen in the retreat. They cooperated with V-Discs (a record label owned and operated by the armed services) in producing records for service members and appeared on military radio service shows. Their contributions to the war effort led to them being known as “The Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service.”

Separation

The group continued their musical career after the war but not in the same fashion. Patty separated from the group to pursue a solo career in music. She continued to make appearances in guest shows and found herself in a musical theater piece called the Victory Canteen in Los Angeles. She performed with her sister
Maxene, in another musical called “Over Here,” which showed life during WWII at the homefront. Maxene accepted a teaching position at Tahoe Paradise College and rose to become Vice-President. LaVerne died of cancer in 1967, which made both Maxene and Patty unable to perform as a group without her presence.

Despite their humble backgrounds, they grew to be iconic figures in swing and blues during WWII with their parents’ help. They brought a sense of joy through their entertainment during a dark time in American and world history. Overall, they sold more than 900 million records, recorded seven hundred songs, and earned nine golden records.

Photo – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrews_Sisters_Billboard_4.jpg

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The Actress and her duty

During the German Empire’s reign, a future actress was born days after Christmas in 1901, in Berlin. Marlene Dietrich’s mother was from a wealthy family, and her father was a police officer. She studied violin in her youth and developed an interest in theater and poetry as a young woman. Moreover, her early beginnings involved playing violin for silent films, singing in the choir, and playing small and vital parts in many German movies. Her role in musicals attracted attention to her talents. After success as a singer in a film called the Blue Angel, she moved to the United States.

Beginnings in America

Through her connection with director Josef von Sternberg, she starred in six films under his direction. She cultivated her image as a glamorous actress. She used musical talent to star in movies that were somewhat provocative for her era. After starring films that became a commercial success, she becomes one of the best-paid actresses of her time. However, she later declined in her popularity and was placed at the 126th rank in the box office.

Activism

At this time, the Nazi Party approached her while in London and offered her lucrative deals, if she to agree to return to Germany as a film star, boosting the Third Reich image. Marlene declined and applied for US citizenship. She used her resources to create a fund that helped Jews and other dissidents to escape Nazi Germany. Marlene used her entire salary from one of her movies, “Knight Without Armor,” to put it in the fund.

Following the renunciation of her German citizenship, she began selling war bonds, succeeding at it than any other celebrity. Marlene performed to allied troops through the war in Algeria, Italy, UK, France, Netherlands, and Germany. She played a critical role in assisting the Office of Strategic Services (known today as the Central Intelligence Agency) to record and broadcast her music in German as part of psychological warfare. As a result of her actions during the war, she received the Medal of Freedom for entertaining the troops in addition to Légion d’Honneur by the French government. The tours that she went on often involved working difficult and dangerous environments. There were reported instances where Marlene was working on the front lines of the war. She adapted to those environments by sleeping in tents and giving performances without power.

The impact of contribution

Marlene is one of the icons of Hollywood cinema. However, she is also an example of a musically talented celebrity who put their fame and skill into good. Not only did she entertain Allied troops, but she saved many lives by financing their escape from the fascist regime. And while she continued to have financial success in her musicals and films, she suffered from her contribution to the war effort.

Her visit to West Germany in 1960 resulted in negative press and hostility. Generally speaking, German nationalists saw her as a traitor. Two bomb threats were made against her and protests chanting “Marlene Go Home!”. Her visit and tour in Germany were not successful financially, and she felt drained by the attitude she met there. When her career ended in show business, she continued to be politically active and in contact with many world leaders, attempting to exert whatever influence she had to advance positive change.

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Photo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/tom-margie/1547775492/in/photolist-3mLKJm-7XyhE4-9KdRG5-2dMfc6y-HZXRnM-4VqfD4-4VqfHX-9EtbGQ-9EqgDe-KCwLy-2gxrQJQ-Tqq9cA-WDFnTC-W2r7pt-WDFn5d-W2r8JT-XftNqT-X3AhQK-XftSrZ-WDF3WE-W2r8qM-aC7fuw-VXFqGZ-mit4pe-aUVmRx-aUVrsH-hmj8gp-2gpEjsF-93S6xH-93Vakq-93VamQ-93VaiS-93S6uD-93VagU-9364g3-9364id-932WRZ-9364jN-9364j3-932WUt-2ebWGkW-dEZTaG-ctV9xE-MzHhNJ-dEZQLE-mLhrc2-DNseFp-e8TFmy-bA8q8C-bQdaMa

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Diverse talents fighting against the odds

During the height of the racial tensions in the United States, a group of women from a diverse set of racial backgrounds formed a group known as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. It was the first racially integrated all-female band in its time. It all started in Mississippi, with a principal named Laurence C. Jones in the impoverished African American neighborhood’s Piney Woods Country Life School.

Successful beginning

Inspired by the Melodears, he set out to create an all-female jazz band at Piney Woods to fundraise the school. The Swinging Rays of Rhythm was born to get money for the school. Later the band would become independent and later get the name the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. They get their independence by stealing the school bus when they found out that many will not graduate from school. They have devoted their time to the band and didn’t engage in scholastic activities. Eventually, they severed their ties with the school. The group sees that they are in high demand. The group decides to take the patronage of a wealthy donor in Virginia. Anna Windburn volunteered for leadership due to losing male musicians to the draft from her former band.

The group performed predominantly to black audiences in Harlem, Washington DC, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis (Missouri), Omaha, and Los Angeles. Due to the Jim Crow laws, the girls lived on the bus that they were using to tour the country to avoid trouble. They used the bus for music practice as well as studying for regular school classes. The band’s white members often had to wear dark makeup to look black or say that they were mixed in order to avoid trouble.

The troubles

Roz Cron (one of the band’s white members) tried unsuccessfully to convince a policy officer that she came from a racially mixed background. As a result, spent a night in jail. The musicians also didn’t make a lot of money themselves, bringing $1 a day for food and $1 a week for allowance. On top of all this, the group had to face casual sexism from other more experienced male musicians who thought less of them due to their gender.

The war effort

Yet despite these harsh circumstances, the group rose in prominence. Their performance in the Howard Theater in DC set their box office record to 35,000 patrons in one week. It received the honorable title, “America’s No. 1 All-Girl Orchestra” by DownBeat magazine. They had a significant fandom among diverse audiences as they performed in majority-African American venues. Their most crucial contribution was their role in WWII. Their popularity in the African American populace slipped into the military, with African American soldiers writing the ban fan letters and asking them to come to Europe to perform. The band answered the call and started touring in Germany, France, and Belgium.

Separation

After the war ended, the group began a slow disbanding process. Reasons involved marriage, aging, career changes, and starting families.

The band holds a special place in American history. Despite the racial discrimination and segregation, combined with oppressive gender norms, during one of the bloodiest wars in human history, the band made of a diverse and integrated group of young women were able to have considerable success in their short journey. They were so popular that their talents were used for a good cause: contributing to the war effort. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm stand as a symbol of diversity and overcoming hardships when their very existence was illegal in many of the places where they have performed.

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Photo – https://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134766828/americas-sweethearts-an-all-girl-band-that-broke-racial-boundaries

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The War and the Artist

At the age of seven, a young girl started performing publicly on stage. Daughter of a plumber and a dressmaker, Vera Lynn came from humble origins. At the age of two, she received a diagnosis with diphtheritic croup and nearly died. Her first hits were “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” and “Red Sails in the Sunset,”. Two years later, her career will be shaped and defined by her participation in the Second World War.

The war years

At the beginning, she would sing to the people using the London tube station to hide from the air raids. During this time, she had a popular hit, “We’ll Meet Again,” that made her quite famous in that era. The song resonated with the British populace for their lyrics. This verse is what made song popular in times of conflict: “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

Her popularity made her a top favorite when British service members chose their list favorite artists. As a matter of fact, she was named “The Forces’ Sweetheart.” Her popularity continued as she kept performing songs requested by British troops and visiting hospitals to meet new mothers and send their letters to their husbands overseas. Moreover, her other contribution to the British war effort included entertaining the troops in Egypt, India, and Burma and appearing in three movies with wartime themes.

Continued success

After the war, her song “Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart” became a top chart hit in the US. Moreover, her other two singles, “The Homing Waltz” and “Forget-Me-Not,” became popular in the UK. The three songs landed spots on the UK Singles Chart. As a matter of fact, She was the first British singer to hit a top chart in the US. While she continued to have a successful career, her dedication to the service members never went away.

Dedication and service

In 1995, she sang outside the Royal Buckingham Palace in a ceremony that marked VE Day’s anniversary. Ten years later, on the same anniversary, she made an appearance with a speech praising the veterans of the war, reminding the younger audience of the sacrifices that they made for their country.

She followed with a performance of her song, “We’ll Meet Again.” In that same year, during the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, she made a speech in which she said about the World War II veterans “These boys gave their lives, and some came home badly injured, and for some families, life would never be the same. We should always remember, we should never forget, and we should teach the children to remember”. In honor of her contributions, she received the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Burma Star for her work in Burma.

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Photo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/growlroar/3767893231/in/photolist-6JXrop-RNvZP3-aWBhXe-eVUc4R-7Hkggg-23S5b7f-2j185Ai-9VRBqK-bSnwze-2g82saD-2g82dG2-2g82k5o-2g82oHo-24RjVdt-2jjUiWx-23S5aUG-6kaoQd-8C4G3s-aC3cUZ-2g82h6b-svqynS-atX8f8-2jk85ka-2g82vsS-2g82evH-2g82crn-2g828o2-2g828Xn-2g82ado-2g82pck-9QG5bR-2g82aPU-2g82D8L-e1zwG5-2g82qLs-2g82hEy-2g82rF3-2g82ozo-sg8wPG-rAUGWp-sxxNgd-sxFCaV-sgg7MP-rAUxEi-rAUuLn-2iZi1nu-sxxQcC-sxFAyi-2g82D2y-2g82DEx

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The Theater Master

Born to a musical family, Noel Coward developed an interest in the performing arts at the age of seven. He attended the Chapel Royal Choir School as a youngster. However, Noel had little formal education and could not read musical notes. Curiosity was his strength and he eager to learn and didn’t let the lack of formal education stop him. His father worked as a salesman, selling musical instruments. Financial struggles were very common in his childhood. His ambitious mother enrolled him in a dance academy in London. Noel became acquainted with many in the theater industry who had a significant effect on the young playwright, such as Charles Hawtrey, Philip Streatfelid, and Astley Cooper. Unfortunately, Philip Streatfelid would later pass away from tuberculosis.

Before the war

Before the outbreak of WWII, he made a trip to America to pursue his career in theater. He wasn’t very lucky in the beginning. Later, however, he would forge great success and popularity. Plays like Young Idea, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, and Hay Fever laid the foundation of his career. They they received wild popularity in England and America. Because of these achievements, he kept producing and working on plays until he collapsed on stage while starring in The Constant Nymph. His biggest theatrical failure was Sirocco, which generated a violent reaction from theatergoers.

The war effort

When WWII broke out, Noel left the theater and wanted to contribute to the war effort directly. He job was running British propaganda to influence the American public and political opinion to aid Britain. He excelled in his job and later moved on to doing musical work by entertaining British troops in Europe, Africa, Asia, and America. After the bombing of London by German forces, he wrote and recorded patriotically-themed songs such as “London Pride” and “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans.” During the war, he wrote and directed a naval film called in Which We Serve. He also composed the music for the film as well.

His influence

Although he was not formally educated in music composition and reading musical notes, Noel wrote eight musicals and three hundred songs throughout his career. His theatrical career and musical talent often overlapped. Talented in many forms of art, Lord Mountbatten, a British Naval Officer, once said on Noel’s seventieth birthday, “There are probably greater painters than Noël, greater novelists than Noël, greater librettists, greater composers of music, greater singers, greater dancers, greater comedians, greater tragedians, greater stage producers, greater film directors, greater cabaret artists, greater TV stars. If there are, they are fourteen different people. Only one man combined all fourteen different labels – The Master.”

Noel Coward was never formally educated in the arts. He was merely motivated, talented, and passionate. This combination led him to a great success that had a massive cultural impact.

Photo – https://www.flickr.com/photos/53035820@N02/8133606732/

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Love and loyalty in times of war

One of the most famous music composers during the Great Patriotic War (the Russian term for the Second World War), Matvei Blanter, was born and raised in the town of Pochep during the reign of the Russian Empire. His father was a craftsman, and his uncle, Solomon Mikhoels, was an actor, director, and co-founder of the Moscow State Jewish Theater. His great contribution would be a patriotic military love song that he created during a time of loss and separation.

Early years

Matvei studied the musical arts in Kursk and Moscow, including piano, violin, and composition. In his early career, Matvei built a reputation light dance and jazz songs. After the rise of Stalin, however, his vocation took a turn. The cultural environment of Russia became more ideologically strict. Matvei began producing music for propaganda purposes. A perfect example of this is the song Stalin is Our Battle-Glory. He wrote other military songs during the period before WWII.

The war years

By far, the most famous piece he ever wrote was Katyusha. The folk song is both upbeat in its character as well as militaristic in nature. The song represents a woman named Katyusha, who yarns for the love of her life, serving on the Soviet border. The woman sends her song to the young soldier to remind him of his love for her and help him protect the Motherland, while Katyusha will preserve the love and bond between them. It gained fame and popularity during WWII. It became an inspiration to participate in the war effort against Nazi Germany. More so after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Soviet Russia.

The song was played by female students from the Soviet Industrial school in Moscow, offering a farewell to soldiers going to the front against the Nazi regime. It became an international hit, played by many singers in many nations, including Italy, where it became a favorite of Italian partisans fighting against both German and Italian Fascists in Italy.

Photo – http://aaron-kreiswirth-f8fa.squarespace.com/blog/bfe7d491-ace3-4dae-bfcf-bab12a24ffe1

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