On June 26, 1986, just two months after the Chernobyl disaster, People’s Artist of the USSR Joseph Kobzon was supposed to give a concert at the Chernobyl Culture House, located just a couple of kilometers from the exploding fourth power unit reactor.
The liquidators of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident managed to do a lot for two months of work, but, nevertheless, the city was still covered by radiation captivity.
Some began to doubt whether Kobzon would come?… He didn’t just come, but the first initiated that people of the creative profession did not stand aside from the problems that the country lived. He showed by his own example that people also live in Chernobyl. The liquidators are not robots, they are a kind of soldiers at the forefront, art is probably much more necessary for them than for the rest.
… The country slowly, but still gradually came out of its stupor, as if waking up from deep hibernation. Specialists were sent to Chernobyl to assess what had happened and to take measures to eliminate the consequences of the accident. Work has already began on the decontamination of contaminated sites in Ukraine, Belarus and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant itself in mid-May. Transparency has not managed to bring confusion and turmoil into the souls of Soviet people yet. Patriotism at the liquidation work was real, sincere and selfless. It has been unforgettable for centuries!
People of various professions and specialties went to the Chernobyl nuclear power station – from the cook to the chemist, from the builder to the engineer, and nurses and folk artists rode. Creative people did not stand aside, because as they say, creative people are the voice of the people! They are always with him, and most often – in the thick of it!
The first to come to Chernobyl was Joseph Kobzon. He didn’t need anyone’s performance, his songs were popular, people knew them well and sang with pleasure. The cheerful, thick and peppy voice of J.Kobzon, his frantic performance and compassion for people, his strict manner of behavior on the stage – all this fascinated people, they involuntarily plunged into the emotional atmosphere of complicity, filled with morality and love, together with the artist. At the same time, the songs made them think and be proud of the country. There are few such talented artists in the country to understand their people so cordially, to feel them subtly and meticulously meet their aspirations and hopes.
Kobzon removed the mask and began to sing
Kobzon was in Afghanistan at the time of the Chernobyl accident, so he came to his first concert in Chernobyl, as to the next front. The city was densely covered with radioactive dust, and it creepily penetrated into all cracks, into houses, into rooms, into cars. Safety “petals” have become a mandatory attribute for people, so everyone came to the concert of their favorite artist in “petals”.
They were removed only when they fell into a clean zone. Joseph Kobzon was shocked by the indistinguishability of people in this monotonous gray dress with the same bandages on their faces. And it seemed to him that masked mannequins were sitting in the hall, but looking closely at him, he felt the mood of the hall and began the concert in his usual manner of performance.
He sang mentally and with inspiration, but the masks did not change their expression. And he himself thought that someone was singing under Kobzon, and he was divided with the audience by an impenetrable wall. All this seemed to him something transcendental, surreal, something like hallucinations. Inspiration did not come, the “petal” was foreign to him, it disturbed, irritated and angered him. Kobzon abruptly removed it off his face and opened him air, hall, people.
He understood their impatient expectation to hear Kobzon live. They applauded him and many supported his impulse and removed the boring petals from tired faces. They enjoyed the masterful possession of the voice, its sound, and the will to live came to life, it instilled in their hearts a cheerful mood and hope for a better future! He healed the souls of the liquidators!
Five concerts a day in a radiation atmosphere!
The news about Joseph Kobzon’s concerts spread throughout Chernobyl, and people rushed after working for him for positive emotions. To recall the forgotten feelings of happy and joyful minutes of experience with your favorite songs live.
And they were not mistaken in their expectations. The talent of the artist charmed them and made them enjoy the melodic juicy sound of a unique voice and magically plunged them into a light and cloudless state.
The mood for life was given by his songs! Joseph Davidovich did not expect such a mental upsurge of people and did not prepare for a long marathon. Five concerts a day in the dirty atmosphere of the hall! The organizers of the concerts were amazed at his composure and were enthusiastic about his performance.
The cause of Kobzon’s disease
After a while, Joseph Davidovich fell seriously ill, the tireless Bison went to the hospital, and went through all the circles of hell with chemotherapy treatment. But his natural optimism, self-control and organization, a balanced mind and, in the end, his insatiable greed for life – all came together and fused into a nervous iron ball and did not allow the disease to overcome him.
Then the patient’s strong will and caring help of doctors could bring back to life an extraordinary person who was still so necessary for the country not only as an artist, but as a great authority. Compassionately assessing the past, he sometimes reproached himself with some enthusiasm and recklessness. He could have been more restrained! It is possible… but it was unlikely that he was able to go against his nature.
Once at a mournful celebration in honor of the next sad anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, a young journalist asked Kobzon a question: “From the height of the past time, has not your assessment of your behavior changed in the first days after the accident?” Joseph Davidovich leisurely, in a manner peculiar only to him, turned his whole body to the interlocutor, with a certain degree of caution and curiosity, looked at him restrainedly and asked: “Why should it change?”
The journalist was not confused by the authority of the artist and calmly explained: “Another time …
And now my generation is not ashamed of it! People lived by common worries and joys, then there were no showdowns and defaults. Where it’s difficult, the best went there… the best got the country out of trouble. Could the artists be behind them?.. No! We were together with our people and jointly shared sorrow and joy, misfortune and victory! We cannot be blamed for what was our life!”
You can’t answer better! It is only a pity that such “Bisons” were reduced, otherwise, maybe they would have lived differently?!
We no longer have a national artist with us, and those to whom he came back in Chernobyl in 1986 with a concert remember how he, tearing off his protective mask “petal”, gave the most memorable concert for them in the stuffy and thoroughly saturated with radiation room. The liquidators of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, most of which are representatives of the strong half of humanity, are an audience that is rather stingy with tears.
But rarely anyone manages to contain a mean male tear, remembering the emotions today that were at that memorable concert of Kobzon. Many Chernobyl residents compare this concert with the performance of Leonid Utesov in post-war Odessa. Each had its own front. Once upon a time, many Odessa citizens inspired the beloved artist to restore their hometown, destroyed by the enemy. Radiation is the same enemy, only invisible, and it brought no less grief. The fight against it has not been over yet for many years.
To minimize the consequences of its detrimental effect on all living things – this was the front for those who were on the line of fire in Chernobyl, as if on the front line, the front for those who defended the planet, not only in trenches and not in tanks, but on the ruins of the fourth power unit Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Human memory is an amazing thing.
The moments that caused a lot of grief and suffering are erased from its labyrinths, and cordial meetings remain, which, even in Chernobyl choking with radioactive dust, warmed the souls of people, inspired hope that the radioactive nightmare would end soon. Indeed, if Kobzon himself arrived, then it was not so scary, it meant that very soon it would end…
More than thirty years have passed. A new confinement was erected at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, grandiose plans for the construction and operation of a modern, environmentally friendly, scientific, educational, tourist, innovative platform based on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are being discussed.
This project can really become an international breakthrough that will take us to a whole new level, open up investment prospects. Perhaps in the future “Chernobyl Mecca” there is a place in which those who Chernobyl left scarring in their hearts in 1986 can gather. And maybe someone will sing for them, like Kobzon once.