Their duet impressed with the beauty of their voices and sincerity. And they chose songs not healthy, but sincere, often Jewish. They were forgiven for this for a long time – until they decided to leave the Union. They were immediately declared dissidents – and banned.
She and her husband Stakhan Rakhimov burst onto the music stage in the early 60s and instantly fell in love with millions of people – both in the USSR and abroad. Even in recent years, despite their age and many ailments, they gave concerts – albeit not as big and noisy as before, but the same sincere. Their duet amazed not only with the strength of their voices, but also with their sincerity – they sang not for honorary awards, but as if only for themselves. And the songs were not chosen healthy, communist, but those that they liked. Often Jewish. During the years of the total ban on everything Jewish, it was only from them that one could hear something painfully familiar and familiar from childhood.
Having met on stage, they lived together for over 60 years. Up to a certain point, their couple was even a kind of visiting card of the Soviet state. What an example of friendship between peoples: he is an Uzbek, she is a Jew. That is why they were easily released on foreign tours. But everything changed when Yoshpe needed treatment abroad: the country’s authorities could not give the world a doubt about the quality of Soviet medicine. The singers were immediately declared almost dissidents – and disappeared from all radars for almost ten years. Alla Yoshpe was then often asked: “How did you get through these years of oblivion?” She replied: “Who told you what we went through?” It is with these words that Yoshpe ends his autobiography.
In the same book, she said: “In infancy, I hardly cried. This began to worry my mother seriously, and she showed me to the laryngologist, they say, was it a dumb child. The doctor reassured: “Do not worry, she will sing to you all!” As I looked into the water ”. Alla was born in 1937 in Moscow, where her parents moved from Ukraine. Father Yakov Yoshpe, a railway worker by profession, met Alla’s mother when she was already the wife of the head of the GPU of the city of Proskurov – now Khmelnitsky. But the feelings that overwhelmed both, according to Yoshpe, in a few days brought the lovers to the synagogue, where the sacrament of marriage took place. Perhaps it was the fact of the abduction of his wife from the head of the GPU that was the reason for Yoshpe’s departure to Moscow, where Alla was born.
Unfortunately, the pathology of the venous system and pain in the legs followed the girl from birth. And at the age of ten, while visiting her grandmother in Ukraine and running with the guys in the corn field, Alla splintered her leg, which led to sepsis. The prescribed drugs did not help – there was even a question of amputation, but it was miraculously avoided. However, the pains in the legs have since remained for life, sometimes becoming unbearable. To brighten up the loneliness of her daughter, who was deprived of simple children’s active games and games due to illness of the legs, the mother took her daughter to all the performances of the Jewish Theater of Solomon Mikhoels – since he was in the same yard. The scene has since become a girl’s dream, and she even submitted documents to GITIS. True, soon the parents were summoned to the administration and told that with such physical problems she would never appear on stage anyway. Then they offered not to torture the girl and take the documents. So Alla Yoshpe became a student of the Faculty of Philosophy at Moscow State University.
Having joined the university amateur performances, Alla accompanied the “singers” -students on the piano. Alla herself also loved to sing since childhood – she joked that these were the genes of her father, who shone in the choir while studying at the cheder. As a child, sitting at home and watching children play in the yard, the girl almost always sang Jewish songs that were so often heard in their house. She also learned to play the piano at home. But Alla was embarrassed to sing in public because of problems with her legs and gait. And yet one day, accompanying one of the student stars, she could not stand another false note: “Well, not so much!” And she sang as it should. There was no limit to the amazement of fellow students – as well as to Alla’s embarrassment from the applause that followed.
Soon the rumor about a new “star” reached the head of the Moscow State University orchestra, and he invited Alla to join the band. The debut was almost a failure – Alla was very embarrassed to go out, limping, to the microphone. However, right during the concert she was given a note from the audience: “Honey! You are very talented! You shouldn’t go on stage cramped. Don’t show that your illness is embarrassing for you. You give such emotions to people with your voice! So be bolder! You are a real singer! ” Yoshpe remembered this note and the feeling of confidence transmitted from her for the rest of her life.
After graduating from the university with honors, Alla entered graduate school and in 1966 defended her Ph.D. thesis on the topic “The speed of voluntary motor reactions in health and in frontal brain tumors.” But she didn’t work as a neuropsychologist. By that time, her name was already well known on the big stage. Back in 1960, at an amateur art competition of Moscow universities, she met Stakhan Rakhimov. They shared first place, decided to sing a duet, and soon got married.
At the very first meeting, they realized that they felt the music in the same way: listening to one, the second understood that he would sing in the same way. Each of them, undoubtedly, could have made a career alone, but the unity of their hearts in music made them a unique duet on the Soviet stage. “Stakhan and I are very different, even according to the horoscope. And by nature – in general, heaven and earth, fire and water! But someone said about us: “When they sing, the feeling is that the audience is disturbing them.” We know one thing: put us on different ends of the earth and with our backs to each other, we will still take our breath together, ”said Alla Yakovlevna.
The viewer felt this, their fame grew, after the concert tours around the country, trips abroad began. According to the memoirs of the spouses, more than once they were offered to stay, only to ask for political asylum, but they “were even afraid to think about it.” However, in the late 1970s, Yoshpe’s health began to deteriorate. The operations carried out in the Union did not help. They could help abroad: the required operation was performed in Israel, New York and Paris. Yoshpe applied for a referral to the Ministry of Health, but was refused. At the same time, she stated that she was ready to independently pay the costs associated with the treatment, but the decision remained unchanged even when she returned.
Then the couple decided to apply to travel to Israel. “What started here! – Alla Yakovlevna recalled in her memoirs. “We were declared traitors to the Motherland, branded at party meetings, our daughter, an excellent student at Moscow State University, was kicked out of the university in shame.” Stakhan Rakhimov was expelled from the party, the artists were stripped of their titles, all their records were destroyed, and most importantly, they were banned from performing concerts. They were not allowed to work for almost ten years, and in order to somehow survive, the couple sold almost all their property: bookshelves served as beds for them.
But the ban on performances could not prevent them from creating. The spouses began to organize concerts right at home – many famous people were spectators, there were also such “refuseniks” among them. This is how the Music in Refusal home theater was born, the emblem of which was a picture of two birds with a barn lock on their beaks. Naturally, the spouses did not take any money for the performance, but the audience, who knew about the plight of the artists, brought food to fill the empty refrigerator.
The duet was allowed to sing only in the late 80s. The artists, in fact, started everything from scratch: they performed in small regional centers, provincial towns, and only then – on the main stages of the country. In 1989, their concerts again began to gather full houses in Moscow: people sat in the aisles, on the floor, and children even on stage. And nevertheless, during the years of Perestroika, in order to somehow stay afloat, they sold stockings and tights and, having connected their musicians to this “business”, managed to keep the team. At the same time, they, of course, did not stop singing – author’s songs, which had always been forbidden before, finally appeared in the repertoire.
The duet remained in demand for a long time both in Russia and abroad. For example, their annual holiday concert in honor of Hanukkah was held with a constant full house. Only in recent years did Yoshpe try to reduce the intensity of her performances, worrying about her husband’s health and his ailing heart. However, she never mentioned the problems of her heart – it was because of them that she died on January 30, 2021 at the 84th year of her life.