Gyorgy Sviridov (1915–1998): Zoryu b’yut – The Bells of Dawn

SviridovGeorgy Sviridov (1915–1998) was born in of Fatezh in the Kursk Governorate in 1915, his compositional and musical talents revealed themselves early and he moved to Leningrad while still a teenager to study music. Within a few years he became one of Shostakovitch’s pupils at the Leningrad conservatory his music is mostly in a neo-romantic style and covers a variety of genres but his métier was choral music and songs many of which became very popular the moment they were published and which remain a popular part of the Russian choral repertoire to this day.

The Bells of Dawn sets a text by Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) and is an atmospheric and somewhat wistful meditation on youth and the passing of time. It begins and ends with abbreviated rhythmical phrases sung by a soprano that echo across Russia’s expanses, as the the song progresses Sviridov combines three musical layers – a dense and richly textured choral foundation overlaid by the soprano and baritone soloists to create a feeling of spaciousness and remoteness that evokes Russia and by extension the vastness of time. The effect is both otherworldly and beautiful. Enjoy :-)


Gyorgy Sviridov (1915–1998): Zoryu b’yut – The Bells of Dawn

Zoryu b’yut…iz ruk moikh
Vetkhiy Dante vïpadayet
Na ustakh nachatïy stikh
Nedochitannïy zatikh—
Dukh dalyoko uletayet.

The Bells of dawn… from my hands
Ancient Dante tome falls out,
On my lips an unfinished poem
Falls silent—
The spirit is far away.

Zvuk privïchnïy, zvuk zhivoy,
Kak tï chasto razdavalsya
Tam, gde tikho razvivalsya
Ya davnishneyu poroy.

A familiar, alive sound,
How often did you ring out
There, where so long ago
I quietly grew up.

Zoryu b’yut.

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

The Bells of Dawn.

English translation & transliteration: Anastasia Belina-Johnson


Grand Choir, also known as “Masters of Choral Singing” conducted by Prof. Lev Kontorovich.


Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

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