“Let the thunder of victory sound!” anthem played for the first time

9 May 1791

28 April (9 May) 1791 in the Tauride Palace was held a solemn feast on the occasion of capture of the Turkish fortress of Izmail by Russian commander A. V. Suvorov. The program included performances, dances, dinners, fireworks; all the halls of the palace and the park were richly illuminated. The ceremony was attended by almost all the nobility of St. Petersburg. The main guest was the Empress Catherine the Great, with the appearance of which three hundred singers and musicians of symphony and horn orchestra played a solemn Polonaise "Let the thunder of victory sound!" (music by O. Kozlowsky, text by G. R. Derzhavin).

Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg was built on the order of Catherine II for her favorite, His Serene Highness Prince Grigory Potyomkin-Tavricheski, as a tribute to the recognition of his brilliant commander’s and administrative talent. After Russian troops took by storm the Turkish fortress of Izmail, the palace was presented to him by Russian Empress for his merits in the military campaign. The palace got its name from the title of Potemkin - "Prince of Tauride" which was granted him in 1787.

According to the custom of the time balls were opened by polonaise - Polish dance, widely spread in Europe from the XVI century. In Russia polonaise was introduced at the end of the 17th century. By the end of the reign of Catherine II was formed a type of "Russian polonaise”, which became a symbol of Catherine's era.

The author of the beautiful and solemn music of the polonaise “Let the thunder of victory sound! " was a composer Osip Kozlowsky. He was born in a Polish noble family in Warsaw, where he received his musical education. In the 1780-1790s Kozlowski served as an officer of the Russian army, participated in the siege of Ochakov (1788). In 1791 he was transferred to St. Petersburg as a member of the entourage of Prince Potemkin.

The polonaise “Let the thunder of victory sound!" brought fame to Kozlowsky as a composer. Later another polonaise by Kozlowsky became popular. It dealt with banishment of Napoleon's army from Russia - "To the victories of Grand Duke Mikhail Golenishchev-Kutuzov of Smolensk. Saviour of the Fatherland".

During the service under the leadership of Potemkin, Kozlowski was appointed Director of Music Choir of Grand Duke. From 1799, he served in the Directorate of Imperial Theaters, was "Inspector of Music“ in St. Petersburg theaters, and from 1803  - "music director”, whose responsibilities included management of orchestras, organization of the court festivities, watching the training of musicians. Kozlowski was also known as the author of numerous songs and music for plays.

Popularity of the polonaise “Let the thunder of victory sound!" attached to it the value of the national anthem. It opened all the receptions and balls, sounded in the parks of estates. It was sort of a noble hymn, which was also played at the battlefields. This tune had been played in Russia for several decades, performed during the Patriotic War of 1812. However, the polonaise had never been approved as the Russian official national anthem.


Lit.: Гром победы, раздавайся!: песни и марши Российской Императорской Армии. СПб., 2002; Козловский О. А. Гром победы, раздавайся!: Русский победный гимн времён Екатерины Великой / Сл. Г. Державина. М.; П., 1896; Костин Б. А. Гром победы, раздавайся! СПб., 2001; Соболева Н. А. Российская государственная символика: история и современность. М., 2003; Соболева Н. А. Гром победы [Электронный ресурс] // Российская государственная библиотека. 1999-2015. URL: http://project.rsl.ru/index.php?doc=383.