Music for all
The People’s Artiste of Belarus, well-known composer and musician Vasily Rainchik turns 65 on March 7th
The People’s Artiste of Belarus, well-known composer and musician Vasily Rainchik, whose name is connected with legendary ensemble Verasy, turns 65 on March 7th
Vasily graduated from his conservatory twice: as a pianist and as a composer. His ear for music is such that he can compose musical compositions of any complexity without even approaching a piano. However, it took time for his musical abilities to be revealed.
Vasily Rainchik is still in the ‘creative’ ranks. Photo: BelTAIn Shklov, where his family lived, the opening of a music school was a great event, with all parents eager to enrol their children. Vasily, aged 10, had no special desire to study music but his father bought a beautiful button accordion for him and his mother refused to hear dissent. His music teachers said that he had no potential, resulting in his father donating the accordion to the music school. However, Vasily’s rhythmic talent became apparent during his first dictation in a solfeggio lesson, when he had no difficulty in transcribing a melody into notes. His teacher could scarcely believe what had happened.
True talent lay in the piano
Musicians still tell stories of how Vasily performed jazz as a student, although it was not a genre welcomed within academic walls. Nevertheless, even his professors sometimes applauded. Rainchik played with fellow student Igor Palivoda, who later became a member of ‘golden’ Pesnyary. They improvised impressively, using hundreds of melodies in a single composition, playing two grand pianos with humour and skill. Once, they even performed before an international conference of musicologists, inspiring huge admiration!
Rainchik also played in restaurants, such as the well-known Stone Flower, earning more money than most students enjoy.
Sell out success
After performing at the Fifth All-Union Competition of Variety Artistes in 1974, Rainchik’s group, Verasy, began gaining popularity across the USSR. Tickets for concerts sold out immediately, as did the band’s records. Even the artistes themselves hardly managed to get a copy! Their greatest hits included such classics as I Live at Grandmother’s, Blizzard, Carnival, Robin, Caravan, Music for All, Farewell Ball of Love, and White Sail.
After playing at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium, in Moscow, Vasily met the Minister of Culture of the USSR, Demichev, who praised the band for its European flavour. He asked whether Rainchik needed anything and he answered ‘money for instruments’ which resulted in Verasy being able to afford the best instruments in the world. More than $70,000 arrived from Moscow on one occasion (later claimed by the BSSR Minister of Culture, who argued that other bands also needed help).
The Verasy artistes were highly paid: enough to buy a car in a single month. Of course, they worked hard and did their best, performing live rather than recording albums. They often gave 20 concerts in one city, filling each sports palace.
Rock’n’roll with an American flavour
Verasy met well-known American Dean Reed, exchanging phone numbers at a festival in Bulgaria after Dean praised their work. Blacklisted in the USA for campaigning for peace and human rights, the singer, actor and director attended as guest of honour. Later, during a tour of the German Democratic Republic, Rainchik and Tikhanovich were promenading in Berlin when they remembered that Dean Reed lived nearby. They called upon him, which brought about Reed’s invitation for the group to accompany him in performing several concerts for those building the Baikal-Amur motorway. Verasy brought back recordings of Dean’s songs so that only one joint rehearsal was needed a few months later, in Moscow. In the late 1970s, it was sensation to accompany an American and sing in English, playing rock’n’roll! The tour was a great success!
By Irina Svirko