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Other than "Life Has Become Better", the music of the anthem has several possible outside influences. Alexandrov himself has described it as the combination of a march with Russian traditional music, particularly that of bylina epic songs. The anthem shares several chord progressions with Vasily Kalinnikov's overture Bylina, Epic Poem (which, as its name indicates, is also inspired by the bylina tradition). There also exist similarities between Alexandrov's anthem and Robert Schuman's Frühlingsfahrt.
When the Communist International (Comintern) was dissolved in 1943 in order for the Soviet Union to maintain its alliance with the other Allies of World War II, a new composition was needed to replace "The Internationale" as the national anthem. A contest was held in mid to late 1943 for a new anthem, and more than 200 entries were submitted. Alexandrov's music was personally chosen by Stalin, who both praised and criticized it. The anthem's lyrics then had to be written. Stalin thought the song should be short, and that it should invoke the Red Army's impending victory over the forces of Germany on the Eastern Front. The poets Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan were chosen by Stalin's staffers, called to Moscow, and given the task of writing lyrics which referenced not only the Great Patriotic War, but also "a Country of Soviets". The first draft was completed overnight.
The anthem was first published on 7 November 1943. It was played for the first time on Soviet radio at midnight on 1 January 1944, and officially adopted on 15 March the same year. The new lyrics had three refrains following three different stanzas. In each refrain, the second line was modified to refer to friendship, then happiness, then glory. Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union's war againstGermany were originally invoked in the second and third verses, respectively. Reportedly, Stalin was opposed to including his name in the lyrics but relented after some Politburo members insisted.
With the process of de-Stalinization after Stalin's death, the lyrics referring to him were considered unacceptable, and from 1956 to 1977 the anthem was performed without lyrics. A notable exception took place at the 1976 Canada Cupice hockey tournament, where singer Roger Doucet insisted on performing the anthem with lyrics after consultations with Russian studies scholars from Université de Montréal and Soviet team officials. In 1977, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution, revised lyrics, written in 1970 by original author Sergey Mikhalkov, were adopted. The varying refrains were replaced by a uniform refrain after all stanzas, and the line praising Stalin was dropped, as were the lines referring to the Great Patriotic War. Another notable change was the replacement of a line referring to the Soviet national flag with one citing the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the form of "Partiya Lenina" (The party of Lenin). These lyrics were also present in the original party anthem at the same place in the melody, but followed by the lyrics "Partiya Stalina" (The party of Stalin).
The same music was used for a proposed anthem for the State Union of Russia and Belarus, entitled Derzhavny Soyuz Narodov ("Sovereign Union of Nations"). Its lyrics were not tied to any specific nationality, and there were official versions in the languages of every Soviet republic and several other Soviet languages; thus it could have been adopted by a broader union. However, it was never officially adopted, and there appear to be no plans to utilize it in any official role.
The anthem has also been used sometimes for humour and memes related to communism and socialism on the Internet.[original research?]
The variation on the anthem, with comical lyrics, was used during the opening of the second series of the BBC comedy sketch show Harry and Paul, starring Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. The opening montage being a parody of cold war era soviet propaganda films, with Enfield and Whitehouse portraying aging soviet Presidents.
The anthem has been officially translated into several languages:
^Shostakovich, Dmitri? Dmitrievich (2004). Testimony : the memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich. Volkov, Solomon. (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Limelight Editions. pp. 261-262. ISBN9780879109981. OCLC53183394.