Здравствуйте. Меня зовут Андрей Есаулов. В конкурсе я участвую первый раз. Видео творчество, графомания, чтение книг, просмотр фильмов и настольный теннис – вот примерный круг моих интересов. Люблю природу и всё естественное в мире и в людях.
Video creation, writing, reading books, watching movies and table tennis – this is the approximate range of my interests. I love nature and everything natural in the world and in people.
Эссе “Following the Russian trace”
The night porter
My friend and I arrived in Amsterdam at night. This was our first trip to the Netherlands. In the hotel called Hotel Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) we were greeted by the night porter, Malaysian by origin. As soon as he found out that we were Russians, he turned on music on a computer and started to sing our “Katyusha”.
The Netherlands, a Malaysian, a Gothic style hotel… and suddenly “Katyusha”. A Malaysian told us that he was preparing for the contest “Russian song performed by foreigners.”
That moment we did not know yet how much Russian – interesting and unexpected – we would find in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Cossack Choir
Soon we learned that there was a Dutch choir in the Hague performing Cossack songs. By e-mail we agreed to meet with a member of the choir Ton Van der Acker.
Hague Cossacks Choir was directed by conductor Gregor Bak. The band is rehearsing in an old Catholic church built in the XVI century. A rehearsal begins with drinking tea, then the piano is brought in the organ hall and the singers begin to descant. Afterwards go spiritual songs, and then “Kalinka”, “Not for me will spring come”, “Katyusha”, “When we were at war” and other Russian songs are performed. The Dutch do not understand very well Russian and Cyrillic transcription, so they sing some words wrong, but it is obvious that they are trying hard and that they like to perform Russian folk songs very much.
Emil Vagenar, a policeman by profession, is the choir director and is responsible for organizational matters. Emil said that formerly he was singing Russian songs in a small band at the fire Department but as soon as he learned about the existence of the Cossack choir, he immediately asked to be taken into. “We live through a song and try to understand the mysterious Russian soul. Performing in Russia and Ukraine we see people crying on our concerts. But previously we sang Russian songs and did not quite understand their meaning. Now everything is different: we understand what we sing, and we understand the Russian people’s emotions.” Another member of the choir, Ton van der Akker, is a researcher and popularizer of Russian Cossack culture in Holland. He travels in his car along the country and finds places the history of which is connected to the Cossacks.
Let us explain: for the Dutch words “Cossack” and “Russian” mean the same.
The word “Cossack” is a kind of a brand in the Netherlands. We have found a lot of concepts associated with the Cossacks in this country: Cossack road, Cossack linden, Cossack pie and Cossack ferry. The Cossack reality in the Netherlands is associated with foreign campaigns of the Russian Army in 1813-1814, when thousands of Russian soldiers crossed the frontier of Europe.
“At first I began to sing Cossack songs in the choir,” says Ton Akker. “Then I began to wonder who the Cossacks were, where they came from to the Netherlands and how. Thus, the love of Cossack songs evolved into an interest in the fate of the Cossacks, in the history of the Cossacks.”
After the rehearsal choir members go to another part of the church … and drink Russian vodka, such a tradition they have.
Football Club «Kozakken Boys»
From the football magazine that caught our eyes in the cafe we learned that in Werkendam city there would be a match between Kozakken Boys and RoodWitGroesbeek teams. “Kozakken Boys” is translated as “Cossacks”, and, of course, we went to the match.
The way to the stadium was quite far, so we had to get there by train and two buses. The driver of one of the buses found out that we were Russians and were going to the match and didn’t take any money from us and landed right near the stadium. “The name of the football club “Kozakken Boys” takes us back to the times when the Cossacks liberated these lands from the French, as the Netherlands was under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte,” Hans Vink, who appeared to be the club’s fan, shared with us the knowledge. “The liberation battles took place near the river. The first football team field was located right near the place where the Cossacks crossed the river.”
Barend Damen, the ex-president of the club, led us into the building and showed the picture of the Russian Cossack and the inscription in Dutch above him on the wall. Barend told us, “Here you can read how the club got its name. In 1813 the Russians, the Russian Cossacks, came to set the Dutch free, to help us kick the French out. The Dutch and the Cossacks fought side by side against the French.”
The match was coming to the end, and all of the fans already knew there came two Russians to learn the history of their football club. At the end of the game fans came to pat on our shoulders, smiled and wondered how we were brought there. We came home with football team posters, brochures and pleasant feeling of amazement.
The Cossacks Day
There is a marvelous canvas in the city museum of Utrecht. The history of this painting dates to the foreign campaigns of the Russian Army in 1813-1814. Historians rank the operation to liberate the Netherlands led by Alexander Benkendorf, the commander of the volatile corps, as a “masterpiece of military art” when small forces and small losses gave significant political results.
The canvas “The Cossacks entering Utrecht in 1813” based on instant sketches was painted by the contemporary of those events – the artist Pieter Gerardus van Os. The moment of liberating Utrecht from the Napoleonic occupation is depicted there; it shows the dashing Cossacks bursting into the town square, the panicked Gallic cock, which symbolizes the French, is running away from under the hooves of warhorses.
Van Os presented his work to the Russian Emperor, which earned the artist a letter and a diamond ring. The Emperor liked the painting so much that he put it into the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. However, after the October Revolution the painting deemed to have no special value and was sold back to the Netherlands to the very Utrecht city. The painting as the number one exhibit was devoted to the place of honor by the museum. The28th of November, the day when the Cossacks stormed in the square, was announced The Cossacks Day by the Utrechts and it was celebrated until the First World War.
We found not only the area that was captured on the picture Van Os in Utrecht but also the approximate place where the artist made his sketches.
At the end of our trip to the Netherlands we made a film that was presented in the regional library named after V. Y. Shishkov. The audience was surprised to know about the deep Russian trace left in the distant Netherlands. Currently, conductor Sergei Latyshev is converting the video into Dutch. There appeared a joint idea to show our work in the Utrecht museum and for the Dutch in general. In addition, we want to take the initiative to revive the Cossacks Day in Utrecht.
I remember inspiring Dutch singing of Russian songs, Russian and Dutch flags waving on the Czar Peter House in Zaandam, our meeting with “Kozakken Boys” footballers from Werkendam, the history of the painting from Utrecht, and I become seized with proud for my compatriots and respect for the Dutch. Perhaps, this is the normal patriotic sentiments not mixed with political propaganda.