When asked why he does not speak Belarusian in daily life, Vladimir Mulyavin answered, “It is so beautiful that I can only sing it.” The musician found inspiration in a small volume by Yanka Kupala. This native of Sverdlovsk became the embodiment of Belarusian culture, while Pesnyary was our country’s brand. On the eve of his anniversary, Belarusian artistic figures describe what Vladimir Mulyavin means to them.
Vladimir Perlin, violoncellist, teacher, conductor, Honoured Artiste:
I would say that Mulyavin was a gift to me. An outstanding and historical personality. We were connected by our friendship from 1965, when I joined the well-known 2nd detachment in Uruchie, the first person who met me was Mulyavin with a guitar. He already knew me and was making plans for how we could make music together. He was a machine gunner, while I brought the cartridges, we were a team. We spent a year close to each other and slept on adjoining beds, we shared everything, even running together on skis with PPD submachine guns. Our commander of the division was a music lover, he liked to listen to ballads and Mulyavin and I would get a weekend pass to visit our families if we played some music for him. We were eventually transferred to the ensemble of the Belarusian military and our creative friendship began. We didn’t see each other as often, but performed together in the same concerts, his son then played in my orchestra. Mulyavin kept an eye on my work after that and I was always pleased to hear about his successes throughout his life.
Vasil Dranko-Maisyuk, playwright, the author of the play Pesnyar:
Mulyavin is one of the brightest figures in Belarusian culture of the 20th century. The century began with the names of Kolas, Kupala, Bogdanovich, and Mulyavin continued their glorious tradition. It could be said that he did even more for the development of our culture in an international sense, as he wrote music and sang songs that not only Belarusians, but also Russians, Baltics, Poles and Americans listened to. It was thanks to these songs that interest began to grow in the Belarusian language and people abroad began to study it. It is a pity that we have no musician as yet, who can compare to Vladimir Mulyavin in scale and talent.
Valentina Yerenkova, director:
He was a person who became the national property of not only our Republic, but also all of the USSR. A handsome, brave, talented, fair person who exposed not only the beauty and greatness of our language, but also acquainted 56 countries in the world with Belarusian culture and traditions. It is a great honour for me that I was briefly in touch with his personality during the staging of the performance ‘Pesnyar’, when I had a great deal of creative help from the widow of the musician and keeper of his heritage, Svetlana Penkina.
Mikhail Finberg, the People’s Artiste and Art Director of the National Academic Concert Orchestra:
Mulyavin was a true musician and very fair person not only in music, but also in relationships, a really decent man. When I first came to know him during my service in the army, I felt immediately that he was not a simple person, but he was a unique individual. Mulyavin was noted for his modesty, but he gave much to music. With Vladimir Georgievich at his last concert in Moscow, in the twilight of his life, he appeared on the stage and when the presenter announced: ‘Vladimir Mulyavin!’ the audience stood up as one to applaud.
Sergey Zhbankov, featured actor in the performance Pesnyar, National Gorky Academic Drama Theatre:
He was a symbolic figure in our art. Personally for me, Mulyavin was the first person to bring Belarusian song, in those times still Soviet, to a new level. It seems to me in many respects that the blossoming and success of Pesnyary was solely thanks to him. He gave all his life to creativity and music, he was literally burning himself out. We don’t have many such people today who are willing and able to devote themselves entirely to art.
By Irina Ovsepian