The Red Army Choir #1 - Paul Robeson, Fidel Castro and a concert tour to Cuba, 1961

30 days ago
"The Red Army Choir #1 - Paul Robeson, Fidel Castro and a concert tour to Cuba, 1961" - is the next episode from the "Talking with my father" series (with ...

English subtitle

The red light is on
Yes, the record has started.
"Talking with my father"
The Red Army Choir: Paul Robeson
and the tour to Cuba, Fidel Castro.
Did you sing with Paul Robeson?
Yes, we did sing with Paul Robeson.
I'm very glad to see you again!
I'm very happy! Hello!
Robeson started to make his tours in
USSR since middle 30-s.
"Only in Soviet Union I felt myself a real man!"
- he admired
when he made speeches about
racial descrimination.
How was it?..
I was the member of the Ensemble by then.
And our octet of the Ensemble,
which I showed you on the photo -
Our octet was invited
to the Kremlin Palace of Congresses
in the banqueting hall on the top floor there
in order to perform. Paul Robeson should sing
the first verse of the "Song about Motherland"
Arthur Eizen should sing the second
verse as a second soloist.
And we must sing to them both.
To make a long story short...
He started to sing:
"My native country is wide!
There're many forests, rivers and fields.
I don't know another such country
where a man lives so happily!"
That was Paul Robeson.
Soviet authorities met the fighter
for peace with honor.
They showed him factories and schools,
and even invited to the Bolshoi Theatre.
There was an opera that evening.
His dream about the equality of nations
became real now.
"First time in my life I'm going with the sense
of total human dignity!" - he said.
"The Song About Motherland" by Paul Robeson
So we finished singing and Arthur (Eizen)
took him by his hand
went down the stage stairs
then went into the hall
And together with Paul Robeson
they both sat near Khruschev.
Nikita Khruschev hosted Paul Robeson that evening.
That's it!
The cordiality with which I was met
is a favor from my people,
and I'm its representative from now on.
I'm not telling you "Farewell"
but "See you later!",
or like Russians say - "See you!"
Tell us about your trip to Cuba.
To Cuba?
Yes! How you met Fidel Castro...
Everything from the beginning.
We were on our tour to Mexico
right before Cuba.
I remember four pilots came
and they spoke from the name of Fidel Castro...
And we were finishing our concerts in Mexico then.
"Fidel Castro asks you to come to Cuba"
- they said. That was quite unexpectedly.
It's hard to count the invitations which the ensemble
received from the leaders of different countries.
They were invited by many: from presidents
and royal families to the Pope of Rome.
The main conductor:
There are no such big military choirs in the world.
That's a unique phenomenon.
Well... Fidel Castro was Fidel Castro then.
And there was Nikita Khruschev in USSR then.
So we were provided with everything.
And the pilots said to us: "We have IL-18 airplane.
But it's quite used and
we have little spare parts for it.
But we'll take your there if Fidel ordered so!"
The plane has 4 propeller turbines.
"So we'll take you there for sure!"
We were flying over the sea.
And suddenly three egines shut down.
Just one worked! I saw it in a porthole.
Just one engine! The plane started to shake.
Our stewardess stood on her knees
and started praying god.
She was a Cuban girl.
I was sitting next to Pavel Antonov (bass).
He said to me:
"Let's say goodbye to each other, Lyosha."
And our plane is still shaking a lot.
I told him: "You know, Pasha, it's a pity
that when we fall down into the sea..."
And the plane was keep shaking while we talk...
"there'll be nothing left to bury -
Fishes will eat our bodies."
Suddenly the land appeared.
The plane didn't touch down normally
but flopped down with its one engine.
Were there all the ensemble members in that plane?
There were two air planes for us.
But I flew the one which was broken
and might fall down into the sea.
The second plane has no problems during the flight.
Boris Alexandrov and the Ensemble
soloists were in that second plane.
I was not a soloist then.
So we landed and descended
from the ladder of the plane.
I remember my feelings then.
There was such an impression,
as if there was no ground beneath our feet.
We were so nervous.
It took me some time to pull myself together.
And suddenly I hear the loud laughter of the ensemble.
I looked around and saw a Cuban girl walking there.
She had a big gun behind her belt.
She wore tight-fitting trousers
and she was very attractive as a woman.
So the boys forgot about the plane problems
when they saw her walking there.
And I thought: "What kind of people they are?!"
They almost died just now. But they forgot
everything when they saw a pretty girl!
A heroic island of Cuba.
Its people defends their revolutionary conquest.
And wonderful Havana, the sunny battle city,
proudly proclaims: Cuba is the first
socialist country of America!
Almost a year passed since the Cuban people
smashed the counter-revolutionary gangs
funded with American dollars.
The enemies are threatening Cuba again
but it boldly looks to the future
resolutely getting rid of the inheritance of the tyranny
Cuba lives under the bright sun of freedom now.
It found its own way!
So we came to Cuba. We were placed in the hotel
Habana Libre by the order of Fidel Castro.
The Cuban people heartily hosted the artists
of the Alexandrov Ensemble of the Soviet Army.
The spectator and the artist... No! -
The friends and the brothers met in this hall.
Сommon ideals inspire the people
of Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Fight for peace is the matter of life and honor!
People of the world, stand up for a minute!
Listen, listen: it's buzzing all around
This is coming from Buchenwald
Bell ringing, bell ringing
This is the righteous blood which was reborn
and strengthened in the brass ghoul.
Those are victims which
came to life from the ashes
And they rose again, and rose again!
And they rose!
And they rose!
And rose again!
Were you there for a month?
Yes, about a month. (10 days actually)
So we gave concerts there.
The first concert was visited
by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
The audience greeted them very long and noisy.
They shouted: "Viva Fidel! Viva Che!"
And what about Che Guevara?
We saw Che Guevara only from the stage.
When he came there, he went up
on the stage to greet us.
The audience met him very noisy!
He was a chunky, physically well-built
man of medium height.
The fact is that we saw him alive.
Our artists appreciate the gratitude
of the Cubans very much.
The minester of Industry Che Guevara.
The President of the Republic Osvaldo Dorticos.
Fidel Castro and Boris Alexandrov
exchanged their hats in the sign of friendship.
So they met you very well, didn't they?
Of course! It's not the word!
I should say that they never
had such shows before
as the performance of the Red Army Choir!
And there were no such concerts
in Mexico and Canada either.
The song about the young Cuban
revolutionists born in that land
reached Russia and went back to Cuba
again across oceans and seas
as the tribute of delight of its beautiful people.
Ivan Bukreev has a very rare voice.
He had no equal in the jocular songs.
Fidel Castro liked his singing so much
that he asked for an additional concert.
So we finished the last concert...
And at the end of the tour
our supervisor gathered all of us
And said that there were not enough seats in the plane.
Twelve of us had to stay.
Well, I was on that list - among those 12 people.
The hotel was very good. It was almost empty -
just the ensemble members.
I think there were 19 stories in the hotel.
Don't remember now.
There was a swimming pool and a restaurant.
The food was very good.
We swam in the pool and everything was fine.
Fidel used to come there a few times.
"Viva Russia!"
He came to see Boris Alexandrov.
Did you have a chance to talk to Fidel?
No! What are you saying!
It was impossible to approach him.
So did you fly back without problems?
Yes, there were two IL 18 with
4 propeller turbines at first.
The best planes at those times.
And we returned home safely.
Thank god!
Cuba left a lot of joyful impressions.
Huge distance separates us
But a fiery love of freedom and true friendship
unites our peoples and puts them
shoulder to shoulder.
Can you hear that, Cuba?
An island in a blue distance.
The voice of the soviet friend
This record was made on the 29th of March, 2017
in Moscow by the son of the singer Mikhail.
Long live free Cuba! The alliance of freedom!
To be continued...
Hands off Cuba! Hands off Cuba!