Many Songs originated in the Serbian wars for the liberation and unity between 1912 and 1918: circle dance songs and marches – even today played and listened to with gusto. One of the most famous is the March on the Drina (Marš na Drinu), created at the beginning of the First World War. The song expresses victorious spirit, best reflecting the moral strength of the small peasant nation, who – finding itself in the turmoil of the war – was victorious over much more powerful Austro-Hungarian forces. Defending their families and their fields, led by a warlord, Radomir Putnik, Generals Stepa Stepanović, Petar Bojović and Živojin Mišić, Serbian soldiers won the battles of Cer and the Kolubara. These victories resonated all over the war-ridden Europe. A composer and a military chaplain, Stanislav Binički composed the March on the Drina on the Cer front in 1914. It is assumed that the song was dedicated to a fearless and well liked Colonel Stojanović who died in the battle of Cer.
The March on the Drina, conducted by Binički himself, was first performed as a concert piece in Kragujevac, in the building of the present court of justice.
From the very start, the March was liked and listened to everywhere. It became a symbol of the Serbian unity – the Serbs of Serbia and those of the lands across the Drina river. It was performed at the front, but also in the allied countries. It was particularly exciting on 12 October 1918 in Niš, when the famous Drina Division marched through the newly liberated city to the sound of the March on the Drina. After winning the First World War, the March was played in Serbia as a hymn at celebrations and send-off parties, but also at almost all inns.
The March on the Drina is the most played and performed piece created in the Balkans. It has been played by great philharmonic orchestras, small orchestras, rock and roll bands – everyone in their special way. From the original Binički’s composition, the piece called trio is usually the only one played or performed.
There are instrumental and signing versions of the piece. In 1964, Miloje Popović wrote the lyrics for the film March on the Drina, directed by Živorad Žika Mitrović, and they have been sung to the famous music piece ever since.
The film March on the Drina is a story about a group of soldiers in a Serbian artillery brigade in the battle of Cer, who accomplished the almost impossible deed – they fought, suffered, marched for kilometres without stopping to be triumphant in the end. The film is still quite popular today, featuring the greatest Serbian actors: Ljuba Tadić, Aleksandar Gavrić, Zoran Radmilović, Dragomir Gidra Bojanić, Branislav Jerinić, Branko Pleša and many others.
To battle, go forth you heroes,
Go on and don’t regret your lives
Let the Cer see the front, let the Cer hear the guns
and the river Drina’s glory, courage!
And the heroic hand of the father and sons!
Sing, sing, cold water of Drina,
Remember, and tell of the ones whom fell,
Remember the brave front, full of fire and mighty force
Whom expelled the invaders from our dear river!
Sing, sing, Drina, tell the generations,
How we bravely fought,
The front sang, the battle was fought
Near cold water
Blood was flowing,
Blood was streaming by the Drina for freedom!
U boj krenite junaci svi!
Kren’te i ne žal’te život svoj!
Cer da čuje tvoj, Cer nek vidi boj,
A reka Drina slavu, hrabrost
I junačku ruku srpskog sina.
Poj, poj, Drino, vodo hladna ti!
Pamti priče kad su padali!
Pamti hrabri stroj koji je pun ognja, silne snage
Proterao tuđina sa reke naše drage.
Poj, poj Drino, pričaj rodu mi
Kako smo se hrabro borili!
Pevao je stroj, vojev’o se boj kraj hladne vode,
Krv je tekla, krv se lila Drinom zbog slobode.