Music of Belarus

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Soviet postage stamp depicting traditional musical instruments of Belarus 1989 CPA 6115.jpg
Soviet postage stamp depicting traditional musical instruments of Belarus

Belarus is an Eastern European country with a rich tradition of folk and religious music. The country's folk music traditions can be traced back to the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The country's musical traditions spread with its people to countries like Russia, Canada, United States, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine . The people of Belarus were exposed mostly to Russian pop music during this period and also after independence in 1991. In 2002, however, Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree requiring 50% of all FM broadcast music to be Belarusian in origin, and since January 1, 2005 the rule was made even stricter (75% of music broadcast each day must be Belarusian). However, it does not regulate the language of the songs, so most[ citation needed ] of the music which is broadcast is still in Russian.

Belarus country in Eastern Europe

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.

Eastern Europe eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.


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Traditional music

Documentation of its music stretches back to at least the 15th century. Prior to that, skomorokhs were the major profession for musicians. A neumatic chant, called znamenny, from the word 'znamia', meaning sign or neume, used until the 16th century in Orthodox church music, followed by two hundreds of stylistic innovation that drew on the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation. In the 17th century, Partesnoe penie, part singing, became common for choruses, followed by private theaters established in cities like Minsk and Vitebsk.


A skomorokh was a medieval East Slavic harlequin, or actor, who could also sing, dance, play musical instruments and compose for oral/musical and dramatic performances. The etymology of the word is not completely clear. There are hypotheses that the word is derived from the Greek σκώμμαρχος ; from the Italian scaramuccia ; from the Arabic masẋara; and many others.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the middle ages.

Minsk Capital city in Belarus

Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus, situated on the Svislač and the Nyamiha Rivers. As the national capital, Minsk has a special administrative status in Belarus and is the administrative centre of Minsk Region (voblasć) and Minsk District (rajon). The population in January 2018 was 1,982,444, making Minsk the 11th most populous city in Europe. Minsk is the administrative capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and seat of its Executive Secretary.

Music of Soviet Belarus

Soviet folk rock VIA Pesnyary was one of the most popular Belarussian bands Pesniary.jpg
Soviet folk rock VIA Pesnyary was one of the most popular Belarussian bands

In the 20th century, the first secondary education institute in Belarus was founded (1924) and the first operas ( Mikhas Podgorny by E. Tikotsky, In Virgin Forests of Polesie by Anatoly Bogatyrev and The Flower of Happiness by A. Turenkov) and ballets ( The Nightingale by M Kroshner).

Secondary education education for most teenagers

Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education scale. Level 2 or lower secondary education is considered the second and final phase of basic education, and level 3 (upper) secondary education is the stage before tertiary education. Every country aims to provide basic education, but the systems and terminology remain unique to them. Secondary education typically takes place after six years of primary education and is followed by higher education, vocational education or employment. Like primary education, in most countries secondary education is compulsory, at least until the age of 16. Children typically enter the lower secondary phase around age 11. Compulsory education sometimes extends to age 19.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Anatoly Vasilyevich Bogatyrev was a Belarusian composer and music teacher, seen as one of the leaders of the national school of Belarusian music.

Popular Soviet Belarusian music was composed by several prominent bands, many of whom performed Belarusian folk music. Folk rock act Pesniary, formed in 1969 by guitarist Vladimir Mulyavin, became the most popular folk band of the Soviet Union, and often toured over Europe. Pesniary's example inspired Siabry and Verasy to follow their way. The tradition of Belarus as a centre of folk and folk rock music is continued today. Late 1970s saw more straightforward rock bands such as Suzorie [ citation needed ]

Pesniary Soviet and Belarusian folk rock band

Pesniary was a popular Soviet Belarusian folk rock VIA. It was founded in 1969 by guitarist Vladimir Mulyavin. Before 1970 the band was known under the name Liavony (Лявоны).

Vladimir Mulyavin Belarusian singer

Vladimir Georgievich Mulyavin was a Belarus-based Russian rock musician and the founder of the folk-rock band Pesniary.


Verasy (Верасы) was a musical band created in Belarus in 1971. It was created under the Belarusian State Philarmony, Minsk, director and composer Vasily Rainchik. Along with Pesnyary and Syabry, Verasy was one of major pop music groups in Belarus these times.

Modern Belarus

Ska punk band Lyapis Trubetskoy 20 years of Runet 0384.jpg
Ska punk band Lyapis Trubetskoy
Opening ceremony of Slaviansky Bazar, largest pop music festival of Belarus, in 2009 RIAN archive 411183 18th International Art Festival Slavyansky Bazar opens in Vitebsk.jpg
Opening ceremony of Slaviansky Bazar, largest pop music festival of Belarus, in 2009

Belarus gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union and new bands appeared, including N.R.M. (probably the best-known rock band of the late 1990s, and 2000s (decade), ULIS. Modern pop stars are also well-known, including Boris Moiseev and Lyapis Trubetskoy (though they tend to orient themselves toward Russia and Russian speakers). There are also electronic music performers like Autism, Energun 22, h.h.t.p., Dromos. Worth noting is Drum XTC performs live drum and bass. Around 2002 a new generation of electronic bands appeared, organized by Electrokids promo-group, including the groups like Randomajestiq, Stone People, Dreamlin, T-Trider, CherryVata and Koordinate of Wonders.

N.R.M. Belarusian rock band

N.R.M. are a rock band from Minsk, Belarus, founded in 1981 as Mroja. They are considered to be the most popular rock band in the country. They perform in the Belarusian language, and are a rallying point for political opposition to the Belarusian government, despite being the target of a performance ban from 2006 to 2009.

Boris Moiseev Russian singer

Boris Mikhaylovich Moiseev is a Russian singer, choreographer, dancer, writer, actor, head of dance group and author of popular shows in Russia. Meritorious Artist of Russia (2006).

Lyapis Trubetskoy Belarusian rock band

Lyapis Trubetskoy was a Belarusian rock band. It was named after comical hero from Ilya Ilf's and Yevgeny Petrov's novel "The Twelve Chairs", poet and potboiler Nikifor Lyapis, who used pseudonym Trubetskoy.

Rock music of Belarus arose in Perestroika times. Bands like Bi-2 (currently living in Russia), Lyapis Trubetskoy, Krama and ULIS were founded in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Though rock music has risen in popularity in recent years, the Belarusian government has attempted to limit the amount of popular music aired on the radio, in favour of traditional music of Belarus. These restrictions have encouraged some Belarusian bands to sign up to Russian labels and to tour more in neighbouring countries.

Bi-2 Russian alternative rock band

Bi-2 is a Russian alternative rock band, formed in the 80's in Bobruisk, Belarus. It was one of the most successful with many sales and chart-hits in Russia. Bi-2 was awarded MTV Russian Music Awards for Best Rock Act in 2007.

The tradition of Belarus as a centre of folk and folk rock music is continued today by Stary Olsa, Gods Tower, Vicious Crusade, Bristeil and Kriwi, among others. Stary Olsa is a Neo-Medieval music revivalist band that uses authentic instruments of the medieval Belarus (then part of Grand Duchy of Lithuania).

In 2003, Belarus took part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. Their participant, Volha Satsiuk, came in 4th place. In 2004 Belarus made it to the semifinals of the regular Eurovision Song Contest. The country was represented by a duo Aleksandra and Konstantin, who failed to reach the final. Nevertheless, they won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2005 the following year, with Ksenia Sitnik's song, 'My Vmeste'. Whilst the nation has never won the main contest, Belarusian-Norwegian singer-composer Alexander Rybak won for Norway in 2009, with his composition Fairytale earning a record score.

The Belarusian authorities promote folk or "Slavic" music at the country's top musical event—the state-sponsored Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk, an annual pop and folk music festival in Vitebsk. The biggest festival of Belarusian rock music takes place outside of Belarus, in Gródek, northeastern Poland, a small town some 40 kilometers east of Białystok—the center of Podlaskie Voivodeship, which is inhabited by a 200,000-strong Belarusian minority. The festival, held in July every year since 1990, is organized by the Belarusian Union of Students (BAS) in Poland. The official name of the event is the Music Festival of Young Belarus or Basovišča. Some rock music fans dubbed it "Belarusian Woodstock."

Mister X, a street punk band from Grodno, is well-known on the underground scene in Belarus as well as in Poland - largely thanks to its frontman, singer, and founder Igor Bantser, who is known not only for his musical skills but also for being fluent in Polish and being active on the political action scene aiming to promote the democratisation of the Republic of Belarus; he has also taken part in numerous protests and demonstrations in support of the Polish minority in West Belarus, which frequently faces repression from Alexander Lukashenko's government.

See also

Related Research Articles

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The culture of Belarus is the product of a millennium of development under the impact of a number of diverse factors. These include the physical environment; the ethnographic background of Belarusians ; the paganism of the early settlers and their hosts; Eastern Orthodox Christianity as a link to the Byzantine literary and cultural traditions; the country's lack of natural borders; the flow of rivers toward both the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea; and the variety of religions in the region.

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Stary Olsa Belarusian medieval folk band

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Dmitry Koldun Belarusian singer

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Krambambula (band)

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