Mikhail Vasil'evich Isakovsky (Russian: Михаи́л Васи́льевич Исако́вский) (Glotovka, Smolensk Governorate, 19 January [O.S. 7 January] 1900 - Moscow, 20 July 1973) was a Russian poet, a laureate of two USSR State Prizes (1943, 1949), a Hero of Socialist Labor (1970). A member of CPSU since 1918.
A communist from an early age, he wrote many poems and songs in praise of the regime; but his most famous song is doubtless the rather apolitical Katyusha.
Mikhail Isakovsky was born in village Glotovka, Yelnya Uyezd, Smolensk Governorate, in a poor peasant family of Russian ethnicity. A local priest taught him to read and write. Later he had been studying at a gymnasium for 2 years. His first poem Просьба солдата was published in 1914 in an All-Russia newspaper Nov (Новь). In 1918 he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From 1921 until 1931 he had been working in Smolensk newspapers.
In 1926, being the editor of a newspaper, he helped his young talented countryman Aleksandr Tvardovsky.
In 1927, his first book of poems Провода в соломе was published. Maxim Gorky liked it.
In 1931, he left for Moscow.
Many poems of Isakovsky are set to music. The most famous are Katyusha (Катюша) (music by Matvey Blanter), and The enemy burned my native hut (Враги сожгли родную хату) (music by Matvey Blanter), and In the frontier forest (В лесу прифронтовом), and Migrant Birds Fly (Летят перелётные птицы), and Lonely Accordion (Одинокая гармонь), etc. His songs What you were is what you are (Каким ты был, таким ты и остался), and Oh, arrowwood is blooming (Ой, цветет калина) to music by Isaak Dunayevsky were used as soundtracks in the film, Cossacks of the Kuban (Кубанские казаки) (1949).
The song The enemy burned my native hut (Враги сожгли родную хату) (1945) after publishing was officially criticized for "pessimism" and was not printed or sung until 1956
As a result of cooperation with Vladimir Zakharov the songs to words from Isakovsky appear in the repertoire of Pyatnitsky Choir. The most widely known of them are Along the Village (Вдоль деревни), Seeing off (Провожанье), You can never tell (И кто его знает). According to the words of Alexandra Permyakova, today’s chief musician of Pyatnitsky Choir, these songs made the Choir famous.
He twice got USSR State Prize for his so cheerful songs (1943, 1949). In 1970 he was awarded the title of the Hero of Socialist Labor. He is also awarded 4 Orders of Lenin, and some other orders and medals. He published a lot of books of poems, and besides, the book About the Skills in Verse (О поэтическом мастерстве). He is also well known by his translations from Ukrainian, Belarusian, and some other languages.
Mikhail Isakovsky died on July 20, 1973, and he was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery.