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Museum Collection

The Songs of the Don Cossacks

The archives of I.Y. Rokachov-Vyoshenskiy containing audio-records of old Cossack songs were donated to the Museum in 1993 by his family. The subjects of the songs collected are various to reflect completely enough the history of the Cossack everyday life.

Ivan Yakovlevich Rokachov-Vyoshenskiy (1917-1990) was a Cossack from Dubrovskiy Village, the Great Patriotic war veteran, an accountant by profession. He devoted all his free-time to collecting, keeping and spreading the Don folklore. Within 30 years he recorded 5653 folk songs, over 7000 satiric and humorous stories, comics, anecdotes, several thousands folk sayings and proverbs, tens of fairy tales, he published two collection books – “The Songs Over the Don” (1980) and “The Songs of Stanitsa Vyoshenskaya” (1990).

He began collecting songs following an advice of M.A. Sholokhov. Ivan Yakovlevich remembered: “It was October of 1933, when, at the age of sixteen, I decided to go to the well-known writer Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov… I showed my verses to the writer. He skipped over them and said:

-         Your poems are poor. I advise you to write less and to read more. Almost all literary men write verses in their youth, but only the most talented and industrious people would carry their love for literature through their life…

-         And do you know Cossack songs? – he asked suddenly.

-         Yes, I do.

-         It’s good. A song is the soul, the history of people. And how many songs there are on the Don, on the Volga, and on the Ural, and in Voronezh! What if to collect all the songs, they would make many volumes. And are there only songs alone? What wisecrackers our people are! So much humour and satire their stories possess, and what well-aimed words the people utter… What if to gather all the songs and keep them for our descendants! Well, the folklore is a nutritious medium for artists, though it were an artist of a word or of painting. So many plots are suggested by the Russian and other people’s folklore to the writers. One must not only teach people, but also learn from them.

And just then, on a visit at the great writer’s, I promised to myself to gather and study the Don folklore”.

Larisa Bukina

“A Village of Four Farm-Steads” (Performed by Vladimir Illarionovich Turilin and Mariya Filippovna Turilina.

“Yesterday Late in the Evening” (Performed by Mariya Petrovna Batskina, Ivan Kanayevich Dudarev, Georghiy Mefodiyevich Ermakov.

“In the Garden a Nightingale is Singing” (Performed by Mariya Petrovna Batskina, Ivan Kanayevich Dudarev, Georghiy Mefodiyevich Ermakov, Ivan Vasiliyevich Lotoshnikov, Vladimir Illarionovich Turilin