Vapaan Venäjän sävelet jakolinjojen uurtajina

Translated title of the contribution: The divisive tunes of Free Russia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article addresses the transnational trajectory of the song Vapaa Venäjä (Free Russia) into a communist anthem and the object of fierce political dispute in the interwar period. By using writings to the press and oral history as source materials, the article sheds light on how Free Russia shaped political experiences in both Finland and Finnish America. The melody of Free Russia was borrowed from the Russian military march Farewell to Slavianka, and its lyrics described the Russian Revolution. For these reasons, and for allegedly glorifying Bolshevism, the march aroused fierce criticism in the Finnish non-communist media. However, Finnish communists adopted Free Russia as their instrument for protest and for outmatching the Social Democrats. For some workers, the performance of the song also served to express unity and future hopes as they travelled from Finland or North America to the Soviet Union. However, this article shows that after being recorded by the Columbia company in 1924, Free Russia also sold well as a gramophone record and was spread to new settings such as the intimate sphere of home. This contributed to the partial transition of the march from a strictly ideological context to that of internationally produced “Finnish” popular music.
Translated title of the contributionThe divisive tunes of Free Russia
Original languageFinnish
Pages (from-to)26-45
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • popular music
  • migration
  • songs
  • labor movement
  • history of experience
  • communists
  • Finnish Americans
  • Russian Revolution

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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