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Anthems, Rusyn National

Anthems, Rusyn National. During the period of Czechoslovak rule in *Subcarpathian Rus’, Carpatho-Rusyns had their own national anthem, which was played and/or sung at Rusyn cultural events and at some official state functions. Although performed in Subcarpathian Rus’ and the *Presov Region from the early 1920s, it was not until 1937 that the Czechoslovak government issued a decree calling for the Rusyn anthem to be played in Subcarpathian Rus’ following the state (Czech and Slovak) anthem.

The text of the Rusyn national anthem was “Podkarpatskiy rusyny/Ostav’te hlubokii son,” a poem attributed to the nineteenth-century national awakener Aleksander *Dukhnovych. Although it is not certain whether the poem was actually written by Dukhnovych, the music for “Podkarpatskiy rusyny” was composed by Shtefan *Fentsyk in May 1919 during his trip to Prague to participate in the formal proceedings connected with the unification of Subcarpathian Rus’ with Czechoslovakia. The text and music (melody only) were published by Fentsyk in the first volume of his collection, Pisny Podkarpatskykh rusynov (1921), and again by him in a harmonized version with texts in both Rusyn and Hungarian, Gimn karpatorussov/Karpatorosz himnusz (1939). An alternative melody in a march-like style was sung by Rusyn-American immigrants in the United States and harmonized by the Galician Russophile, Elias I. Tziorogh/Iliia Terokh, Podkarpatskiji rusyny: hymn i mars (1927). The Rusyn national anthem was not performed in public during the post-World War II Communist era; it continued to be sung, however, among Rusyn immigrants and their descendants in the United States, and since the fall of Communist rule in 1989 it is sung at some Rusyn-related events in Subcarpathian Rus’.

Even more popular is another melody based on the most famous poem written by Aleksander Dukhnovych that begins with the words: “Ia rusyn byl, iesm’ i budu.” First published in 1851 under the title “Vruchanie,” it appeared a second time in 1857 under the title “Pisn’ narodna russka” (A Rusyn National Hymn). Set to music soon after its appearance (the composer remains unknown), it was sung at Rusyn-related events during the second half of the nineteenth century. Fentsyk published the melody for “Ia Rusyn byl” in his 1921 collection, and it was subsequently harmonized by Elias Tziorogh (1927), O. Kyzyma (1928), Mikhail Goer (1942), and Vinko *Zganec (1946, 1996), among others. This “second” Rusyn national anthem is especially popular among American Rusyns and it is also known to the Vojvodinian Rusyns and Lemko Rusyns. During the Communist era, “Ia Rusyn byl” was banned from public performance in the European homeland (with the exception of the *Svidnik Folk Festival during the Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring of 1968). Since the collapse of Communist rule, it has been performed at Rusyn events in Ukraine and Slovakia, although it has no official status.

A few melodies have become so popular in certain Rusyn-inhabited regions that they have taken on the status of local “national anthems.” These include for the Lemko Region Iaroslav *Trokhanovskii’s “Na Lemkivshchyni” (In the Lemko Region) based on a poem by Ivan *Rusenko, and for the Vojvodinian Rusyns Iakim *Sivch’s “Ruzhi, cherveni ruzhi” (Roses, Red Roses, 1962) originally composed for and sung at the annual *Chervena Ruzha Cultural Festival.

Bibliography: “Natsional’nyi gimn i prapor Podkarpatskoi Rusi,” in Russkii narodnyi kalendar’ Obshchestva Aleksandra Dukhnovicha na god 1927 (Uzhhorod, 1926), pp. 147-151.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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