Younger Audiences and the Soviet Thaw



     Oscar Feltsman (1921-2013), born in Odessa to a Lithuanian Jewish family, was a legendary composer of Russian standards. Connecting to his Jewish identity upon his evacuation to Novosibirsk during World War II, Feltsman composed music for the Jewish theater of Belarus, along with his secular and popular compositions. Kolybelnaya, written during his later years, is a reflective lullaby sung to a child – evoking nostalgia about the white nights, youth, and serenity.

     Vladimir Shainsky, (1925-present), was influenced by war and  Jewish struggles like many others. Born in Kiev, he too was evacuated during World War II. While a composer of many genres, Shainsky became most known for his songs for children. Krokodil Gena is one such iconic song, expounding in ironically wistful ways how unfortunate it is that birthdays only come once a year. Shainsky is capable of much more than youthful wistfulness, however, as seen in the subsequent track A Glezele Yash, a jubilant Yiddish drinking song.

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