While listening to MP44’s “Avtoritsarizm” (word play on autocracy and tsarism) on the compilation “Muzyka NEsoglasnykh – chast’ 2” this morning it struck me that the melody they sample was very familiar – some quick research confirmed that the group sampled a male choir singing “Bozhe, Tsaria khrani” (God save the Tsar) – the Russian Empire’s national anthem from 1833 to 1917 (music by Aleksei L’vov, lyrics by Vasilii Zhukovskii – more info can be found at www.hymn.ru/bozhe-tsarya-khrani.html).
While not an earth shattering discovery (especially on a compilation of oppositional groups), it is still a cool reference to the declaration of official nationalism by Sergei Uvarov, Tsar Nikolai I’s minister of popular enlightenment, in 1833 which was based on pravoslavie (orthodoxy), samoderzhavie (autocracy) and narodnost’ (nationality – the German word “Volkstum” is a more precise translation). Tsar Nikolai I’s main goal was to preserve the integrity of the poly-ethnic empire with the main weight on autocracy and orthodoxy (the religion has remained a focal point of Russian national identity until today with many of the important government officials professing to be believers and depicted together with spiritual leaders of the Russian Orthodox church). At the same time the song takes a shoot at the political developments in today’s Russia.
The national anthem can be heard at hymn.ru while MP44’s version can be heard below.