The balalaika is often called a primordially Russian musical instrument. The first mentions of it date back to the second half of the 17th century. True, many researchers believe that this tool was popular even earlier among the Tatars, and in Russia it was only significantly changed.
It is believed that the first balalaikas in our country began to be made in the Chernihiv region. For several years this tool has become widespread in Russia. In 1688 the balalaika was presented to the young Tsar Peter.
By the way, Peter's father Alexei Mikhailovich did not encourage playing musical instruments. He even issued decrees to take them away from buffoons and burn them. Those who disobeyed were punished with a whip. And the most stubborn people could even be exiled.
The length of this stone-plucked instrument is 600-700 mm. And only three strings. True, there used to be balalaikas with two strings.
There are several versions of the origin of the name balalaika. One is purely Russian. "Balalaika" - from the words "balakat" or "balabolit". Supporters of the eastern origin of this instrument bring another argument: from the word "bala", which in Turkic languages means "child".
In 2014, Khabarovsk received an unusual gift from Harbin, its Chinese sister city. As a sign of friendship, the leadership of the Chinese city presented a sculptural composition of a Chinese pipa and a Russian balalaika.
Even in the tsarist army, it was believed that the balalaika helps the soldiers to endure all the hardships of army service. It is not surprising that this tool was an indispensable attribute in the barracks.
In 2008, Japanese balalaika player Syo Kitagawa won the international music competition in Yekaterinburg, becoming the first foreign musician to win in the nomination "Russian national music". Balalaika is popular not only in Japan, there are balalaika virtuosos also in Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway.
The largest balalaika monument is erected in Khabarovsk. The 12-meter balalaika and pipa (the Chinese analogue of the balalaika) adorned the city's Amur Boulevard. The composition was donated to the city in honor of the anniversary of sister city ties with Chinese Harbin. The cost of the monument exceeds half a million US dollars.
Renowned rock musician James Hetfield has an impressive collection of guitars. But he also has a balalaika, moreover, it was made for Hatfield by special order.
It is interesting that balalaika musicians even have their own professional holiday. It is celebrated annually on June 23rd. It was established in 2008 on the initiative of Dmitry Belinsky, president of the Russian Club of populist musicians. In 2008, 320 years have passed since the first documentary mention of the balalaika.