Musical selection for the 135th birth anniversary of Alexander Vertinsky

Alexander Vertinsky was born 135 years ago, on March 21, 1889. He spent his childhood in Kiev, lived in Moscow, and then spent 25 years in exile, staying in different cities around the world. Vertinsky lived a colourful, adventurous life. When asked if he had any merits or victories in competitions, the artist replied, "I have nothing but a world name." Alexander Vertinsky was one of the most popular performers of the first half of the 20th century.

The artist travelled halfway around the world and worked in France for a long time. In the Parisian restaurants "Kazbek" and "Casanova" Vertinsky performed for European kings Gustav of Sweden, Alphonse of Spain, and the Prince of Wales. The musician was acquainted with artists Kazimir Malevich and Marc Chagall, was on friendly terms with ballerinas Tamara Karsavina and Anna Pavlova, with Fyodor Chaliapin and Ivan Mosjoukine. In 1931–1932, German companies "Parlophone" and "Odeon" recorded 48 songs of Alexander Vertinsky, English company "Columbia" – 22 songs, and Polish "Syrena Electro" – 30 songs. The only recording in the USSR was made in Moscow in January 1944, in the Sound-recording House. 15 songs were recorded. They were released by different plants – Aprelevka, Leningrad, Riga and Tashkent and were issued in several editions at different times. Gramophone record "Recordings of 1927-1957", released in the Soviet Union in 1969, was the best and most complete edition of the songs by Vertinsky.

Vertinsky began as a devotee of decadence and accomplished his artistic journey as an ambassador of high Russian culture, a man from the past who found himself in the Soviet time and on the Soviet stage. Returning to his homeland was a much greater risk than emigrating, but there he was lucky. Concerts were not forbidden. In 1951, Vertinsky was awarded the Stalin Prize of the second degree for merits in the sphere of art and literature. As an actor, he appeared in 24 films, including famous ones, such as “Bloody Dawn” and “The Anna Cross”.

Alexander Vertinsky is a legendary person for us. His work is a bright page of the national artistic culture. And he himself will remain in our memory as a mysterious Pierrot of the stage, then as a composer that exquisitely wrote musical novellas, as a singer that brought the highest artistry, musicality and refined taste to the stage. Vertinsky was the first singer and performer in history to become famous thanks to songs of his own authorship. At that time, the musical world did not know such a phenomenon, usually singers performed songs written by the third-party authors. Exquisite performer, heartfelt poet, idol of millions – Alexander Vertinsky became the progenitor of the Russian author song genre. The personality of Vertinsky is also notable for the fact that he was probably the first singer in the world to tour the entire world with concert-portraits – from Warsaw to San Francisco; from Shanghai to Lebanon; from Paris to Moscow.

The refinement of repertoire, singular acting talent, plasticity of gestures, expressiveness and intimacy of intonation made Vertinsky one of the iconic figures of the Russian variety show genre. Poetic and musical creativity of Vertinsky influenced the development of song culture in Russia. Among those who at least once listened to the lyrical songs of the great Russian chansonnier, there were practically no indifferent people – as a rule, he was either enthusiastically received or disliked intensely. The songs and romances of Alexander Vertinsky were a peculiar genre, and the key thing – his manner was recognisable, his creative art was inimitable and unique. This is evidenced by the fact that his songs are still sung by contemporary performers, and new stage works and plays about his life are created on the basis of his songs.
The sad singing clown is one of the mysteries the 20th century has left us.

Musical selection prepared for the 135th birth anniversary of Alexander Vertinsky, a master of romance, an outstanding artist, one of the most popular performers of the first half of the 20th century is posted in the museum Collection Sound Library.