Yuriy Vizbor (Юрий Визбор) lived his entire life (June 20 1934 - September 17 1984) in Moscow
. There he got a degree in Russian Language and Literature. His life was a colourful one - he worked as a teacher in the far north, served in the army
, was a correspondent of a popular radio station and a journal, starred in many famous Russian films (he is best known in the role of Nazi general Martin Bormann
in the soviet film Seventeen Moments of Spring
) and plays, worked as an instructor of mountain skiing
, participated in expeditions to the mountains and wrote several poetic proses, plays, screenplays and short stories. Yet above all he is known for his poetry and songs, which he started writing from the age of fourteen and up to the day of his death.
As a Russian bard, Vizbor is not considered to be as significant as Bulat Okudzhava or Vladimir Vysotsky, his songs being a lot simpler and lighter, but he is at least as popular as these figures. When it comes to playing songs around the campfires, or at bard festivals, Yuriy Vizbor is the number one choice. It is very common for a bard to sing about the issues that relate to his personal life and Vizbor did just that - singing about all these issues that he encountered in his interesting and exciting life. Yuriy Vizbor's wrote many songs (nearly one thousand of them) on various topics, but the ones that stand out most are about adventures in the great outdoors - a topic that many of those who listen to his songs can relate to. This topic was, with no doubt, a direct result of the poet's vast experience in these kinds of sports and so were very personal and accurate in describing the emotions involved in this sport. Vizbor also wrote many military songs, but his approach is completely different from that of Vysotsky – one of those is Report in which he explains the nature of the army and offers a short glimpse into a soldier’s life. Unlike Vysotsky, Vizbor wrote songs that there either full of deep and emotional sorrow or simple and pure joy. This light hearted and simple approach also works very well for songs about love which are also common for Yuriy Vizbor (although this can be said about almost any poet). Another difference between Yuriy Vizbor and Vysotsky is that Vizbor was supported by the Soviet government and that allowed him to perform in more concerts. He never had any serious conflicts with the government because his songs had little to do with it (unlike many of the early bards, Vizbor never wrote any "criminal songs").
One could say that Vizbor's songs lack deep philosophical meanings and would be quite correct. Vizbor's songs are not deep, they are simple - as simple as, for instance, the sunset in the middle of Siberian forest or the fresh snow on the Fann mountains (a mountain range in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). Vizbor's pure simplicity is not a vice but a virtue, and is very likely to be the secret to his popularity. Take, for instance, his popular song The Fann Mountains that talks about nothing but his personal feelings of loss after leaving these mountains and returning to Moscow. This may be a simple topic with no greater meaning, but the emotions it conveys are clear and beautiful and this is why the song is so popular. Don't try to look for any hidden meanings, the poet is not trying to show you anything except for how he feels about leaving the mountains. I don't know how well reading the poetry works, but after hearing the songs you can actually feel the exact emotions, as vivid as they must have been when the song was written.
Just as the topics of Vizbor's songs differ from Vysotsky's, so does his singing and playing style. Vizbor always played the all-Russian seven string guitar and, although he did not receive any musical education, was quite skilled with it and had many students. Vizbor's songs have a more precise and smooth melody with smooth flow which fit his (relatively) clean and clear voice. Needless to say that such an approach is ideal for the topics with which his songs deal.
Some songs can be legally downloaded from http://www.bards.ru/1Old_Audio/0067.asp