From Unearthing The Music
Pesniary (also spelled Pesnyary, Belarusian: Песняры, [pʲesʲnʲaˈrɨ]) was a popular Soviet Belarusian folk rock band. It was founded in 1969 by guitarist Vladimir Mulyavin. Before 1970 the band was known by the name Liavony (Лявоны).
Pesniary combined various types of music, but it mostly focused on Belarusian folklore with various psychedelic rock elements. Several of Pesniary's songs were composed by Aleksandra Pakhmutova. They were also influenced by early Frank Zappa. The band often used lyrics from famous Russian and Belarusian poets of the past. Pesniary's favourite was Yanka Kupala. The band adapted his poems into stage musicals twice: Pesnia o Dole (Song of Fate, 1976) and Guslar (1980), the latter also released as a concept album.
Among their best known songs are "Kasiu Jas Kaniushynu", "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", "Belorussiya" and "Alesia".
Pesniary was one of the best-known Soviet groups from the Belorussian SSR. It was one of the very few Soviet bands (and possibly the first one) to tour in the United States, in 1976. They toured the American South with folk band The New Christy Minstrels. The period between 1974-1980 is considered the Golden Age of the band, when it achieved top popularity in the USSR, Eastern Europe and in other countries.
In 1979, after the success of the rock opera Guslar, the whole band was awarded the title of Merited Artist of the Soviet Union, and Mulyavin personally received a higher title, People's Artist.
After Mulyavin's death in a car accident on 26 January 2003, the original Pesniary split. Currently, three different bands claim to be the official descendants of the original Pesniary. They are:
- Belarusian State Ensemble Pesniary - a state-produced band under the Ministry of Culture of Belarus, consisting mostly of young musicians.
- "Belorusskie Pesniari" - led by former Pesniary saxophonist Uladzislau Misevich
- "Pesniari" - led by former Pesniary vocalist Leanid Bartkevich
All three tour and perform original Pesniary songs.
- 1971 - Ты мне вясною прыснiлася (Ty mnie viasnoju prysnilasia - I dreamt of you in spring)
- 1974 - Алеся (Aliesia - Alesya)
- 1977 - Перапёлачка (Pierapiolachka - The Quail)
- 1979 - Волoгда (Vologda - Vologda)
- 1980 - Гусляр (Husliar - Guslar)
- 1982 - Зачарованная моя (Zacharovannaya maya - My Enchanted [live album])
- 1984 - Через всю войну (Cherez vsyu voynu - Throughout the Whole War)
The band also released dozens of singles.
The lineup of the band changed frequently. Among the most notable and long-lived band members were:
- Vladimir Muliavin (guitar, vocals, 1968–2003)
- Valery Muliavin (guitar, trumpet, 1968–1973)
- Leonid Bartkevich (vocals, 1969–1980)
- Anatoly Kasheparov (vocals, 1970–1990)
- Valery Dayneka (vocals, alto, 1976–1992)
- Igor Penya (vocals, 1980–1998)
- Leanid Tyshko (bass guitar, 1968–1981)
- Vladislav Misevich (saxophone, flute, 1968–1992)
- Alexander Demeshko (drums, 1968–1988)
- Valery Yashkin (keyboards, hurdy-gurdy, 1968–1977)
- Vladimir Nikolajev (keyboards, trombone, 1971–1980)
- Cheslav Poplavsky (violin, guitar, 1972–1979)
- «Песняры» в квадрате
- Программа «Во весь голос» — виртуальный музей ансамбля Песняры
- Звание заслуженного артиста БССР Владимир Мулявин получил в Чувашии