Volga boatmen’s song is Special Collections’ Featured “Book” for December 2011

Ilia Efimovich Repin (1844-1930) - Volga Boatmen (1870-1873). The painting is currently in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Special Collections’ featured item for December 2011 is actually a music score: Volga boatmen’s song = barge hauler’s chant translated from the Russian by Edward Bromberg, arranged by Victor Harris, and based on the harmonization of Edward Bromberg. Published in Boston, c1917 by the Oliver Ditson Co. and known in Russian as Эй, ухнем!, this is a well-known traditional Russian song. Originally collected by Mily Balakirev, it was published in his book of folk songs in 1866. Known as a shanty (work song), it was sung by burlaks, or barge-haulers, on the Volga River. Balakirev published it with only one verse (the first). The other two verses were added at a later date. The song inspired Ilya Repin’s famous painting of barge haulers on the Volga (see above), which depicts burlaks in Tsarist Russia.

See and hear the Red Army Choir sing this work on YouTube (1965)

First page of Special Collections' c1917 version of the Volga Boatmen's Song.

Glenn Miller also did a version of Song of the Volga Boatmen. This is available on the CD The best of The lost recordings [sound recording] : and The secret broadcasts, available for circulation from Bartle Library’s Newcomb Reading Room. Bartle Library has a number of other versions of this song on circulating CDs ~ just search by title in the Library’s online catalog.