About | After Russia

Precious contemporaries,

If you traveled to Europe, Turkey, the Balkans, China, or even North Africa a century ago, you would be surprised at the number of people who spoke Russian. While some had nothing else than to flee Russia because of the revolutions and the Russian Civil War, others left because they opposed the Bolshevik dictatorship. Their departure was most often a real evacuation — in the most dramatic sense of the word.

Cab drivers, loaders, window washers, exterminators, sweepers, receptionists, couriers, miners, car assemblers, servers, newspaper hawkers, prostitutes, drug dealers, beggars, not to mention the remnants of the Volunteer Army — but also professors, publishers, editors, even politicians... There are still no exact numbers, but it is evident that several million people fled the country.

It was a bit easier for those who had established themselves before their departure — most of their audience left with them, and it was possible to give concerts and lectures, to get printed and published. Among the accomplished writers who left Russia were Ivan Bunin, Alexey Remizov, Marina Tsvetaeva, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, Mark Aldanov, Boris Zaytsev, Alexey Tolstoy, Aleksander Kuprin, Nadezhda Teffi, Ivan Shmelyov...

The younger generation, who began their career in exile and were unknown in their abandoned homeland, were forced to write in Russian in the cities of Russian dispersion: Constantinople (Istanbul), Belgrade, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Harbin, Shanghai, Riga, Revel (Tallinn)...

They faced many trials and often a tragic fate. Poverty, unemployment, the temptation to return home or the return itself, World War II, and, finally, the impossibility of finding their readers back home.

The only writer to gain international acclaim was Vladimir Sirin (Nabokov). Gaito Gazdanov achieved widespread fame. Many have heard of the poet Boris Poplavsky. The rest of them are still waiting to meet us, the readers.

Writer and essayist Vladimir Varshavsky defined his circle as the unnoticed generation. Have you ever heard of Yuri Ivask, Vadim Andreev, Nikolai Turoverov, Mikhail Gorlin, Raisa Bloch, Yuri Mandelstam, Alexei Eisner, Dovid Knut, Georgy Raevsky, Yuri Odarchenko, Vladimir Smolensky, Lidia Chervinskaya or Sergei Bongart?..

Their beacons in the literary sea were the most prominent poets of emigration and irreconcilable opponents, Vladislav Khodasevich and Georgy Ivanov. Georgy Adamovich was their standard-bearer and arbiter of taste.

I have listed only those poets whose poems became songs on the album After Russia. Hundreds of names of the unnoticed generation are not mentioned in this work.

I hope we have succeeded in capturing the rhyme of our times across the century, with all its hardship, fear, and — hope!

This album is meant to help us understand the experience of forced emigration a century ago so that we can reflect on it today.

Thank you for listening!

author and producer of the album

Roma Liberov