90 years ago, on February 24, 1932, the singer Maya Kristalinskaya was born. She did not receive a formal musical education, but invariably gathered full halls in all corners of the USSR. Her voice excited and touched everyone without exception: the villagers and the cream of the capital’s beau monde. She seemed to sing with her soul, truly experiencing the difficult fates of the heroines of her songs. Izvestia recalls the biography of one of the most unique and unique singers in the country.
The path to vocation
Maya Kristalinskaya was born into a prosperous family of Soviet intellectuals. His father, Vladimir Grigoryevich, was a compiler of puzzles and crossword puzzles for children, published in “Pioneer Truth”, wrote children’s books. The father’s income allowed the mother of the family to devote herself to the household, which, in general, was not quite common in the USSR. The family moved in Moscow from Saratov, and soon Vladimir and Valentina had a daughter named Maya. Alas, less than two years have passed since the baby died of heart disease. The parents sincerely mourned, and when Valentina had her second child, also a girl, they, not afraid of superstition, named her after her departed eldest daughter.
The girl went to her father in a creative nature. K music she has been interested since childhood: she went to the choir of the Folk Song and Dance Ensemble of the Central House of Railway Children, led by Semyon Dunaevsky, brother of the famous composer Isaac Dunaevsky, with pleasure participated in school activities. As her family recalled, Maya almost never prepared for concerts: she easily memorized the melody and lyrics of the song, unmistakably got into the notes. Teachers taught her a great musical future, but Maya was a serious girl, did well in all subjects and thought of a more solid profession. After graduating from school, she entered Moscow Aviation Institute.
Folk song and dance ensemble of the Central House of Railway Children
Photo: RIA Novosti / Yuri Zharov
At the Maya Institute she took part in amateur performances, performed at creative evenings – but after graduating, she went to Novosibirsk, to the Chkalov Aircraft Plant. There, however, she was not welcomed at all: Kristalinskaya refused to allocate a room in a dormitory, did not arrange for the agreed position. Offended, Maya returned to Moscow. Following her, a complaint arrived in the capital: distribution in those years was mandatory, and Kristalinskaya had no right to leave the prescribed place of work.
The future pop star was threatened with a criminal case – but she was suddenly joined by Artem Ter-Makaryan, MAI teacher and head of one of the departments of the Ministry of Aviation Industry. He was a reviewer of her thesis, personally gave her the highest score and did not doubt the integrity of the girl. Under Ter-Makaryan’s protection, Kristalinskaya got a job in Alexander Yakovlev’s design bureau. At the same time, Maya began working in the pop studio of the Central House of Artists, performing in the ensemble “First Step”. The further she went, the more she realized that her vocation lay far from aircraft construction.
The star was born
In 1957, on the eve of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow, the ensemble “First Step” was invited to participate in the creative festival program. The head of the ensemble Yuri Saulsky was to present the Soviet Jazz Orchestra to the jury of the festival. Saulsky without hesitation appointed Maya Kristalinskaya, who could sing almost without an accent in Spanish and Italian and easily adapted to any style of performance. The jury of the festival was sympathetic to the Soviet musicians: Saulsky’s group was awarded a silver medal.
But not everyone, as it turned out, liked the new style. Under the curtain of the festival in the newspaper “Soviet Culture” was a devastating article, the author of which accused the ensemble of “loss of creative individuality”, and soloist Maya Kristalinskaya – of “weak creative abilities” and “swaying stylistic tricks.” In those days it was almost a verdict. Soon Saulsky and the ensemble were expelled from the CDRI, and the band disbanded. However, Maya Kristalinskaya has already been noticed by the famous Soviet jazzman Oleg Lundström, who invited the girl to his ensemble to replace the departed soloist. In 1958, with the Lundström Orchestra, Maya went on her first tour Ukraine. And when she returned, she immediately took the documents from the Yakovlev Design Bureau: from now on her life was dedicated to music.
World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow
Photo: RIA Novosti / David Sholomovich
In 1959, the young talented singer was invited to perform the song “We are two shores with you” for the film “Thirst” directed by Yevgeny Tashkov. It was a real success: Kristalinskaya’s name instantly became known throughout the country, and the record of the song sold 7 million copies. Kristalinskaya toured the entire Soviet Union, and her concerts were always sold out.
Despite the fame, the singer soon had to leave the band of Oleg Lundström. It was reduced by order of the All-Russian touring and concert association. She began performing with jazz band Eddie Rosner, with whom she was well acquainted: he often accompanied her at concerts. Kristalinskaya’s star shone brighter every day. She appeared in the popular TV show “Good morning!”, Performed on the same stage with Valentina Tolkunova and Joseph Kobzon – Soviet pop stars of the first magnitude. Her songs “It’s raining in our city”, “Top-top, baby is stomping”, “And it’s snowing” the whole country listened with a sinking heart. And after the release in 1966 of the film “Three Poplars on Ivy”, where Kristalinskaya performed one of her best songs – “Tenderness” by Alexandra Pakhmutova, according to an all-Union audience poll, she was named best pop singer of the year.
But not everyone knew what such hard work cost the public’s favorite. Maya Kristalinskaya took tragic notes in her songs from her own troubles.
The Earth is empty without you
Maya Kristalinskaya was loved by the whole country, but her personal life was not easy. Her first husband was a satirical writer Arkady Arkanov. Having attended the rehearsals of the Saul Orchestra, where the very young Maya was performing at the time, Arkanov fell in love without a memory. On the third date he made her an offer, and a couple of months later, on July 1, 1957, the couple signed. But their marriage was not destined to be happy. Rthe newlyweds could not find a common language from the very first meeting. The young family huddled in a tiny room where scandals were more frequent. The singer was going through a difficult period in her career, upset by critical notes in the press, and her husband did not like it, accusing Maya of “star disease”. In the end, Arkanov packed up and left. Their marriage did not last a year.
Soon Kristalinskaya’s career confidently went uphill. But new challenges awaited her. During a tour with the Eddie Rosner Ensemble in 1962, she caught a cold. The cold seemed trivial, but her recovery did not come, and a worried Rosener advised her to see a doctor. The diagnosis was like thunder in the clear sky: the singer was diagnosed with lymphogranulomatosis – cancer lymph nodes. There were rumors in Moscow that Kristalinskaya did not live long. However, after severe treatment and surgery, she immediately took the stage. Maya’s neck left ugly scars, which she now kept hidden under scarves and silk scarves. Fans considered them a trademark of her individual style, only relatives knew about their true purpose.
Photo: TASS / Vladimir Savostyanov
Maya Kristalinskaya (center) and composers Tikhon Khrennikov with Alexandra Pakhmutova
During the treatment, Kristalinskaya met her main love, the architect Edward Barclay. He was sincerely in love, flooded Maya with flowers, and when she told him about her illness, he promised to be there no matter what. They soon married and remained close until Barclay’s death.
In 1970, the new management of Gosteleradio closed Kristalinskaya’s access to television. And although she participated in the status creative evenings of Alexandra Pakhmutova, Eduard Kolmanovsky, Jan Frenkel and other greats of the Soviet stage, she did not appear on television. In 1972, her performance of the song “Who will respond?” even cut from the program “Song of the Year”. Her concerts were increasingly held on small, unknown venues – on stage in parks, cinemas, old houses of culture of the Tula, Ryazan, Smolensk regions. The singer was finally crippled by the death of her husband: Edward Barclay, who suffered diabetes mellitusdied suddenly in June 1984.
Kristalinskaya has not recovered from this blow. The cancer broke out with new force, the experimental treatment only made the singer worse. Her hand dropped and finally her voice disappeared. Maya Kristalinskaya died at the hospital on June 19, 1985, at the age of 53, after exactly one year of surviving her beloved husband. The singer was buried in the Don cemetery of the capital. On her grave is a marble monument with the image of a treble clef, a music camp and touching words: “You did not leave, you just went out, come back – and sing again.”