Literature in the Belarusian area was developed from the common East Slavic word art in the Kiev state. In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Belarussian state languages became later: laws, chronicles and diplomatic documents were therefore written off in an early form of Belarussians. Georgia Frantisjek Skaryna (born ca 1490, died 1541) printed and commented on Bible texts in Belarusian, but since the Polish sejm in 1697 banned the use of Belarusian in official contexts, the polarization of the language increased, and Belarusian poetry survived only in the oral tradition. This popular word art was the basis of a literary renaissance during the Russian era in the 19th century with Vikentij Dunin-Martsinkevitj’s opera libretto and poem as the most important work. With the poetry as the basis, a new, socially conscious Belarusian literature was also developed by Janka Kupala and Jakub Kolas. However, during the 1930’s, the policy of widespread politics and the extensive purges threatened to completely wipe out the Belarusian poetry; World War II’s German occupation also hit hard on all Belarusian culture.
- Countryaah: Population and demographics of Belarus, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.
The memories of the war therefore became central motives of the author generation that began to emerge during the 1950’s. Among them were Vasyl Bykov. With photographic realism and moral-philosophical commitment he interpreted (among other things in the novel “Grustaget”, 1985) the traumatic experiences of his people. Posthumous fame, even internationally, received Leonid Tsypin (1926-82) with the novel “Summer in Baden-Baden” (1982).
With President Lukashenka’s increasingly authoritarian rule since 1994, the country has been characterized by increasingly harsher censorship, which has resulted in many writers occasionally exiling or being forced to act underground; The poet Barys Pyatrovich (born 1959), whose prose poems have been published in Swedish in the volume “Fresker” (2008), and the Russian-speaking Svetlana Aleksijevich, who has written gripping documentary novels about life in the former Soviet republics. The 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for Aleksijevich increased the international focus on issues of freedom of the press and opinions in Belarus.
In the early 1920’s, a Belarusian film production studio based in Leningrad was started. However, the first Belarusian feature films were made at Mosfilm in Moscow and Lenfilm in Leningrad. The studio moved to Mensk (Minsk) in 1939 and was named Belarusfilm in 1946. In 1986, the annual production included six feature films, ten TV films, over 100 documentaries and four animated films. Following the country’s independence, the lack of capital and market has resulted in a drastic reduction in production. During the 00’s, an average of two feature films were produced per year.
The folk music in Belarus is related to Russian, Ukrainian and Lithuanian folk music and is mainly diatonic, based on major and minor scales. An older layer, linked to ritual contexts, has formulaic melodies and small scope. Newer tunes have wider scope and lyrical lyrics.
Common instruments are tsymbaly (chopping board), accordion, violin, flutes and bub (drum), often played together in ensemble, troista muzyka. Older instruments such as shale, vevlira and bagpipe are now rare. In the late 19th century, Russian models of chastuschy, short improvised stanzas for accordion, and multi-part songs were spread.
Both older ring dances and newer pair dances (eg ljanok, bulba and matselitsa) are performed at consistent tempo and fast tempo. After the revolution, large folk instrument orchestras, whose style and repertoire had great influence, were founded according to Soviet model models.
Art music was cultivated during the 19th century, but only got stronger when Minsk founded a school for higher music education (1924), a symphony orchestra (1928), an opera and ballet (1933) and a conservatory (1937).
Among the composers of the 20th century are Anatol Bahatyroŭ (1913–2003), Ryhor Pukst (1900–60), Yevgenij Tikotsky (1893–1970) and Yauhen Hlebau (1929–2000).
During the Soviet era, music was strictly regulated and no subversive rock music was allowed to be played. The pop music performed was sung almost exclusively in Russian. The rock music played in Belarus during the Soviet era was often mixed with Belarusian folk music such as with the Pesniary group (founded in 1969), the most famous Belarusian group of that time, and later Verasy and KRIWI.
Following Belarus independence in 1991, a number of Belarusian rock groups have emerged, with NRM singing in Belarusian being among the most popular since the late 1990’s. Other successful groups are Ljapis Trubetskoj, which mixes punk, shell and reggae, and punk band Neuro Dubel. Several bands playing electronica have also emerged.
However, the limitations of the musical expressions have continued under Lukashenka. Those who have criticized the political regime in their music have been banned from broadcasting on radio and TV and are forbidden to appear in public. Among the blacklisted are both NRM and Ljapis Trubetskoj as well as Neuro Dubel. Often, such protest bands occur in surrounding countries. Other artists are loyal to Lukashenka and sing songs that support him.
According to a 2005 decree, 75 percent of the music played on the radio is of Belarusian origin. However, the decree does not require which language the music should be performed in, so Russian still dominates the broadcast music. Since 1990, a Belarusian rock music festival, Basovišča, has been held in Poland near the Belarusian border.
Belarus debuted in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 but has never achieved any major successes there. However, the Alexander Rybak (born 1986) born in Belarus won the competition for Norway in 2009.
The Belarussian villages have been relatively small and not as closed to the Russians and the Ukrainians. The traditional homes were knot-timbered, built on one floor and equipped with thatched roofs. Civil engineering has also been a common technique. The costumes of the Belarusians were for a long time very simple and almost completely without decor. The men wore a high fur cap.
The Belarussians’ annual and family celebrations have mostly been celebrated in the same way as was common among the great Russians, with the Orthodox Church to a large extent creating the common patterns. Folk beliefs included many natural beings, but particularly striking was the ancestral cult practiced. Research in Belarusian ethnology and folklore is mainly conducted in Minsk at an institute that is part of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences. Among the classic collectors and publishers of Belarusian folk culture are Je. Romanov (1855–1923) and Paul Sjejn (1826–1900).