Anna Marly

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b. Anna Betoulinski, 30 October 1917, St. Petersburg, Russia, d. 15 February 2006, Palmer, Alaska, USA. Following the execution of Marly’s father during the Russian revolution, the family fled the country,…
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b. Anna Betoulinski, 30 October 1917, St. Petersburg, Russia, d. 15 February 2006, Palmer, Alaska, USA. Following the execution of Marly’s father during the Russian revolution, the family fled the country, eventually finding their way to France; at the time she was aged one. She became interested in music, studying song and dance and as a young teenager danced with a ballet company in Monte Carlo. By her late teens she was living in Paris, singing in clubs and as often as not presenting music that she had composed herself. She adopted her stage name while still in Paris. Married to a Dutchman, she settled in London in 1940 where she became closely associated with the Free French, especially when a song for which she wrote music and Russian lyrics, ‘La Complainte Du Partisan’, was taken up by the French Resistance. A member of the Resistance, Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie, was also living at this time in London, England and he encouraged the song, renamed ‘Chant Des Partisans’, as a replacement for the banned ‘Marseilles’. It became a rallying cry and immediately after the war there was some talk of it becoming the French national anthem. Initially, the song was credited to Marly and d’Astier, as composer and lyricist respectively, but then was credited to Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon, who had worked on a translation into French. Later in the war, Marly joined the British Entertainments National Service Association, ENSA, touring military bases throughout Europe.

After the war and now with her second husband, also a Russian, she moved to South America, then to the USA, settling in Alaska and in due course becoming an American citizen. Among those who recorded ‘Chant Des Partisans’ was Leonard Cohen on Songs From A Room. This version of the song was credited to Marly, as composer, and Hy Zaret, who had written the English-language lyrics performed by Cohen. In 1985, Marly was named a Chevalier de La Légion d’Honneur by the French government, in recognition of the importance of ‘Chant Des Partisans’ in World War II.