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Leizer Leonid Weissbein Utiosov - biography

Leonid Osipovich Utyosov (Russian: Леони́д О́сипович Утёсов; real name - Lazar (Leyzer) Vaysbeyn, or Weissbein, Russian: Ла́зарь (Ле́йзер) Ио́сифович Вайсбе́йн; 21 March [O.S. March 9] 1895, Odessa – 9 March 1982, Moscow), was a famous Soviet jazz singer and comic actor of jewish origin, who became the first pop singer to be awarded the prestigious title of People's Artist of the USSR (1965).


Leonid Utyosov was brought up in Odessa (present day Ukraine) and attended the Faig School of Commerce, from which he dropped out and joined the Borodanov Circus troupe as an acrobat. He started his stage career in 1911 in Kremenchug, then returned to Odessa, changed his artistic name to Leonid Utyosov, and performed as a stand up comedian with the Rosanov troupe and with the Rishelyavsky Theatre. In 1917, he won a singing competition in Gomel, Belarus, then performed in Moscow.

In the 1920s he moved to Leningrad and set up one of the first Soviet jazz bands. In Leningrad he began collaboration with the popular composer Isaak Dunayevsky, which became quintessential for both artists. At that time, Utyosov gathered a band of best musicians available in Leningrad, and created a style of his own - a jazz show with a stand up comedy, which blended several styles, ranging from Russian folk songs to a variety of international cosmopolitan genres. In 1928 Utyosov made a concert tour in Europe and attended performances of American jazz bands in Paris, which influenced his own style. During the 1930s Utyosov and his band named "Thea-Jazz" (which means Theatrical Jazz) had a regular gig at the Marble Hall of the Kirov Palace of Culture in Leningrad. Utyosov's jazz band also performed at the Leningrad Maly Opera theatre, at the "Svoboda-teatr" and at the Leningrad Music Hall. In his performances Utyosov delivered a variety of musical styles, including such genres as American jazz, Argentine tango, French chanson, upbeat dance, and the Russian folk music. His popularity was on the rise in the 1930s when he co-starred with Lyubov Orlova in the comedy Jolly Fellows. In it, Utyosov performed such hits as "Serdtse", "Me and My Masha at the Samovar" and "Tired Sun", also known in English as "Burnt by the Sun" (revived by Nikita Mikhalkov as a theme for his eponymous Oscar-winning film). During World War II, Utyosov performed at the front lines, helping lift the spirits of the Russian soldiers fighting against the Nazis. On the Victory Day (May 9, 1945) he performed on Sverdlov Square in Moscow. Utyosov lived in Moscow for the rest of his life, albeit in many of his songs he alluded to his native town of Odessa, where a monument to him was opened in 2000.


  • Karyera spirki shpandyrya (1926)
  • Vesyolye rebyata (1934) (Jolly Fellows) .... Kostya Potekhin
  • Kontsert frontu (1942) (unconfirmed)

Article author: Zipora Galitski
Article tags: biography
The article is about these people:   Leizer Leonid Weissbein Utiosov

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