Front-line star Claudius Shulzhenko
For Claudia Shulzhenko, for each song there was a separate role – with gestures and facial expressions, intonations and even props. In the war years, the singer gave hundreds of concerts on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, and her “Blue Handkerchief” was a symbol of the future Victory. Read the story of how Claudia Shulzhenko became one of the most famous artists of the Soviet Union.
Singers are born
The first stage experience for Claudia Shulzhenko was family performances. Back in Kharkov, the entire family of the railroad accountant’s management participated in improvised performances right in the yard of their own home. More often than not, fairy tales were staged, and the public flocked from the surrounding houses with their own stools. Ivan Shulzhenko loved to sing and hoped that his daughter would also become a singer.
But she herself dreamed of a movie and a stage. The girl knew almost by heart the entire repertoire of the Kharkov Dramatic Theater. At the insistence of her father, Claudia Shulzhenko began vocal training with Nikita Chemizov, a professor at the conservatory, but the teacher had practically nothing to teach the young singer: her voice was set by nature.
Song as a mini-play
On viewing in the theater troupe of Nikolai Sinelnikova, Shulzhenko sang the song “Harness, boys, horses.” The future star was accompanied by the head of the musical part Isaac Dunaevsky.
“You have to play a song and at the same time play all the roles in it,” said Sinelnikov to the young actress. Thus, a special manner of the singer was born: for each song – its own intonations and its own image, capturing sincerity and apparent simplicity.
In 1923, Klavdiya Shulzhenko first sang on the stage – the romance “Stars in the sky” in the play “The Execution”, and just five years later, the actress appeared on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater at a press concert. The young singer arrived with her repertoire. Back in Kharkov, the artist Braytings and then a student at the Conservatory, Yuri Maitus, wrote for Shulzhenko “Silhouette”, the ballad “Red Lighthouse” and the sketch “On a Sledge”, which Claudia Ivanovna performed for many years.
In Leningrad, on the stage of the Music Hall, she sang two songs in the play “Conditionally Killed” to the music of Dmitry Shostakovich. Isaac Dunaevsky was at the conductor’s stand. In the same place, on the stage of the Music Hall, the singer met her future husband, the entertainer, the satirical verse performer and tap dancer Vladimir Coralli. Despite the birth of his son George in 1930, the creative couple toured a lot.
Nine years later, Shulzhenko became the laureate of the 1st All-Union Pop Art Competition. Three songs – “Girl, Farewell”, “Chelita” and “Memo”, performed by the singer, hit the jury.
The Great Patriotic War led the artist to the army. Organized in 1940, the jazz orchestra conducted by Shulzhenko and Coralli became a real front-line ensemble. The singer appeared in front of the soldiers in the hospital wards and on the front line. Constant concert dress and heels – whether it be the House of Culture, the airfield or the forest edge. Only during the siege of Leningrad more than 500 concerts took place. Claudia Ivanovna was awarded the medal “For the Defense of Leningrad” and the Order of the Red Star.
Shulzhenko’s voice sounded on all fronts, and the song “Blue Handkerchief” became the embodiment of tenderness and the concealed longing for the house. Salon romance, originally written on a Polish poem, received a completely different sound. The author of the new text was Lieutenant Mikhail Maximov, and the song became the constant companion of Claudia Shulzhenko at all concerts and military, and then during peacetime.
In the postwar years, Claudia Ivanovna Shulzhenko still performed a lot and recorded records. The first, still in 1940, determined the fate of the singer. The famous cameraman Georgy Epifanov in those years bought a record with the song “Chelita” and literally fell in love with his voice. And having got to the concert Shulzhenko, was conquered by its owner. “G. E. ”wrote Shulzhenko the whole war. After a long 16 years, they met, and in 1957, Klavdiya Ivanovna, at that time having already parted ways with Vladimir Coralli, married again. Now the letters and telegrams were sent by Shulzhenko – from the tour: “Today I sang only for you, my dear, beloved Georges.”
Claudia Shulzhenko became a symbol of the epoch, unassuming songs performed by her became life stories, “castrated” now castanets, or a bunch of letters, or a lilac branch, or a blue handkerchief that soared over the stage and “fell from the shoulders dropped”.
Claudia Ivanovna Shulzhenko recorded her last record “Portrait” in 1980, then wrote a collection of memoirs “When you ask me …”. And in 1983, the film “You are invited by Klavdiya Shulzhenko” appeared on TV screens – a story about the life of the singer, told from the first person.