He earned even greater popularity with his songs, the music for which was written by famous composers of that time – Pakhmutova, Tariverdiev, Babadzhanyan. About why, despite this, the galaxy of the main sixties poets numbered three names and whether we have such bright authors today, we talked with the poet’s daughter Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya.
You once said that “someone worked to ensure that the galaxy of the main poets of the sixties was calculated by three names: Yevtushenko, Voznesensky, Akhmadulina.” Why did it happen so?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: Due to the human qualities of his father: he never bulged out. For him, the most important were family, work, poetry. He never divided the poetic world during his lifetime, which many of his comrades did. The division led to the fact that his name, but not his poetry, sank a little. When the anniversary of the film “Seventeen Moments of Spring” was celebrated, the documentary film “Recent History. Seventeen Moments of Spring 25 Years Later” was filmed, the name of the father was not mentioned in it, it simply appeared: the music of Mikael Tariverdiev.
Just yesterday, I leafed through the list of names whose biographies were published in the legendary ZHZL series by the Young Guard publishing house. How is it that there is still no book about Robert Rozhdestvensky in this series?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: It’s not even just that. The publishing house published the collection “Sixties”. And in this collection there is no Rozhdestvensky. I have no questions for the compiler, who does not like my father’s poems, but I have questions for the editors of “Young Guard”: if you order a practically encyclopedic publication, according to which people can study, according to which dissertations are written, you should ask the author, who gave you the manuscript, why the list is not complete. The Sixties are textbook and to cross out one of them if the author does not like him, to put it mildly, is wrong.
As for the publication in the ZhZL series about Rozhdestvensky, then, apparently, we are again talking about worldly fuss: you need to call, write requests. Everything depends on the personal qualities of the father and the genetics of our family: we don’t really like to fuss. If you get a chance, ask them this question, it’s really interesting.
A few years ago, we talked about the sixties, about how amazing it is that they ended up at the same time in one geographically exact place: Moscow, the Literary Institute. Do you follow modern poetry today, are there such bright names in our time?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: I don’t think there are poets of the same magnitude in our time. We are still eating the leftovers of what used to be. Now the flowering of women’s poetry, for example, the wonderful Vera Pavlova. But I can’t put Vera Polozkova on a par with her, I don’t consider it poetry in the full sense, it’s more a glamorous phenomenon. There are no decent names. If you read tons of poems, then, of course, there is something. But this is not enough to talk about a surge of poetry, about new names. Now some kind of one-time life has gone, not safe. There is no foundation, the soul is gone. And you can’t write poetry without a soul. A poet is born at any time, this is a God-gifted person. Apparently, God does not have the urge to do this now …
Can you imagine Robert Rozhdestvensky today, what would he think of our time? Which of our contemporaries could become his friend?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: No matter how scary and strange it may sound now, I sometimes rejoice that my father did not live to see our time, he would die with every news, as happened in the early 90s, his heart would break every day. I think he would not have made new friends, he would have worn out old ones: Lenya Roshal, Nellichka Kobzon … He was friends with many people of the sixties, but his closest friends were not public people.
“He believed that he did not deserve such popularity, such success. He thought that this popularity was a mistake. Self-doubt was huge,” Alla Kireeva wrote in her memoirs. Is this really true and what is the reason for such uncertainty?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: This is the absolute truth. He was always not confident in himself, in his talent, appearance, growth. He always walked bent over, pulling his head into his shoulders, hunched over. He was shy when they recognized him on the street. All the time he thought that he would write his best poems. Modesty and shyness were only a plus for him.
You consider the relationship of your parents to be one of the greatest loves of the 20th century. Today, films have been made about many poets. Would you like the story of their relationship to form the basis of a film about the Rozhdestvensky poet?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: On the one hand, it is necessary to popularize that time, to tell that there were such stories of great love. But now there are no actors, screenwriters, directors who could convey this to the extent that it would be at least a little bit true. The film “Mysterious Passion” according to Aksenov is not a documentary, although many people treated it as a documentary. It is important to understand that he gave rise to a new boom in the poetry of the sixties: people went to bookstores and again reached for the shelves with poems by poets of that time. No matter how I feel about the artistic side of “Mysterious Passion”, he did the main thing: these names sounded again, which today are again powdered with snow, and then a real thaw began.
This bust of the poet was created at the Kasli Art Casting Plant. Photo: From the archive of Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya
Do you have traditions from your parents that you still follow in your family?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: A funny tradition has been preserved: when guests come, we arrange a lottery. We believe guests should leave with gifts. On my father’s birthday we always gathered and gather guests. His mother, Vera Pavlovna, always made dumplings and put peppercorns in one of them. The one who came across such a dumpling won a serious prize. We keep this tradition to this day. This year, whoever finds the pepper will receive his father’s complete works with a bookmark of his handwritten lines.
What character traits did you inherit from your father?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: The complete absence of fuss is our hallmark. My son was looking for a job and jokingly reproached me for not having made a single oligarch or minister as a friend. My answer was simple: I make friends to my liking, and not those from whom you can ask for something, I put them at the table not by rank or passport, but by the way I treat them.
Do your children read the poetry of Rozhdestvensky, the sixties, or do they already have other idols?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: Of course, they know the poems of their father. I don’t think they are big fans of Yevtushenko and Voznesensky. They now have a slightly different plank. I tried to fight it, but it’s difficult, you need daily control, but when one is 35, the second is 33, and the third is 21, it’s simply impossible. Rather, they will begin to control me. Of course, I try to be aware of their interests, sometimes I pretend that it’s funny to me. They believe.
Do you have a memory of your dad that comes to mind most often?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: As sad as it is, I often remember how he read his last poems to us when he was already very sick. How hard he descended from the second floor, where he had an office. He came and told us with my mother and sister: “Girls, let me read to you.” When he read poems about his imminent departure, about the fact that he was leaving us, I was madly surprised. I once asked him why he does it. He said that he was preparing us for his departure, that it would be easier this way. I remember his strained cough, my mother’s eyes, when he read these poetic farewells. It was very hard.
I saw a bust of Rozhdestvensky on your telegram channel.
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: The bust was created at the ancient Kasli plant of architectural and artistic casting. They offered to make a bust of Rozhdestvensky for the father’s museum in Kosikha, Altai. This is a very complex work in tandem: the sculptor has one perception, my memories are completely different, they spent hours, picking off pieces, or vice versa, adding them. This is a new experience for me, but we managed. Now the series will be small, but the idea arose to make such heads of all the sixties. We live with some old, but great, comrades: Chekhov, Tolstoy, Mayakovsky … And it is already possible to do something new, although, of course, it is difficult to call the sixties new, these are all people who have already left us.
How to celebrate the anniversary
What events for the 90th anniversary of the poet Rozhdestvensky will be held this year? How will they celebrate at home, in Altai, in the village of Koshikha?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: There will be a big anniversary concert in the village throughout the day, an evening with the participation of Larisa Dolina and Alexander Rosenbaum. I really like to come there, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth: century-old birches, a wonderful view from a huge dune down to an oak forest and a small river. There is no arrangement there, a person does not touch nature, everything is real there. The whole Altai will come. On my father’s 85th birthday, women surrounded me there, about 25 people, as it turned out, teachers, they were glad that we had come. They said they would come every year. I asked where they were coming from. It’s not far, 300 kilometers away, they cheerfully exclaimed.
In honor of the 90th anniversary of his birth, there will be a big concert in Barnaul, Maxim Averin, head of the Sochi Philharmonic, promised to give a concert in Sochi on September 1, on October 13 there will be a big concert in the Central House of Writers, and on November 12 – in the Crocus City Hall.
About the new book
This year you published the book “Shura-Mura on Kalininsky”. Is this a continuation of your family history?
Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya: This is the beginning of the 70s, when we lived for three years on Kalininsky Prospekt, having moved from Kutuzovsky, when my father began to actively write songs, and our house was replenished with wonderful singers, whom we had only seen on TV before. It was a wonderful creative time: new songs, new people. In the book, I talk a lot about my grandmother’s love story. I constantly write about her, I loved her very much, she gave me a lot. I can’t write directly about my father and mother yet. They are present in all my books, but not in the foreground. It was such a love story, about which it is better to remain silent, let it be in silence.
Commentary of the publishing house “Young Guard”
Of course, Robert Rozhdestvensky deserves a place in the ZhZL series – not only because he is still remembered and loved by many of our compatriots, but also because he was an author and friend of our publishing house for a long time. The absence of his biography in the series says only one thing – so far there has not been an author ready to take on writing this biography. And this is not the only case – in ZhZL there are still no biographies of such famous contemporaries of Rozhdestvensky as Bella Akhmadulina, Yuri Nagibin, Mikael Tariverdiev. Their absence in the series (temporary, I would like to believe) has nothing to do with the attitude of the publisher to their personality or creativity – this should be clear to anyone who is familiar with the variety of books published in ZhZL in recent years.
We are ready to consider any proposals that come to us, including those concerning the creation of a biography of Robert Rozhdestvensky. Such a biography can also be written by the poet’s relatives, as was the case, for example, with Olga Semenova, the author of a book about her father, Julian Semenov. We call on Ekaterina and Ksenia Rozhdestvensky, creative people who are not indifferent to the memory of their father, to get involved in solving this problem.
ONE OF THE LAST, FAREWELL, POEMS OF ROBERT CHRISTMAS
Quietly flying web threads.
The sun burns on the window glass.
I did something wrong;
I lived for the first time on this earth.
I only feel it now.
I fall for her.
And I swear by her…
And I promise to live differently.
If I return…
But I won’t be back.