Old Website Town Pages
The information on this page has been compiled by Ukraine SIG long time ago.
As JewishGen and the Ukraine SIG evolved, the contents of the page became redundant with other areas of
JewishGen (specially the KehilaLinks) and the new SIG website.
This page will be temporarily hosted by the Ukraine SIG site until this contents is transferred to the corresponding
KehilaLink and/or indexed into the Ukraine Database. Then it will be removed.
Famous Ukrainian Jews Commemorated on Postage Stamps
Leonid Osipovich Utyosov (1895-1982)
Read about other commemoratives here.
Leonid Osipovich Utyosov was and is the legend and pride of the Russian
culture. Regardless of his lack in musical background, he became
the most popular singer of his time. In a country where jazz was
declared foreign, western influence, he managed to not only establish,
but to also preserve for many years to come, the first of the Soviet
jazz. Similarly, although not a literary figure, he managed to write
amazing poetry and published three books in prose. People who knew
Utyosov closely, always remarked on his bright charismatic personality,
as they raised him to the title one of the wittiest people of his
Leonid Utyosov was born in 1895, in Odessa, to a middle-class Jewish family.
In 1911, he became an actor in a provincial
theater. His real last name was originally Vaisbein (Weissbein).
When he was selecting his penname, he wanted it to sound novel, beautiful,
and high. He liked the last name "Skalov," literally, "[big]
rock’s," but in Odessa, an actor by such name already
existed. Sorting through many words, which in their meaning embodied
great heights, the young actor finally decided on a name, which now
is known by millions: Utyosov – "cliffs." Traveling
with his troop from town to town, and actively participating in various
theatrical productions, with the help of his natural talent, Utyosov
quickly became a real professional; in the beginning of the 1920's
he already performed in various venues in Moscow, and then in Leningrad.
But, during all of those years he dreamt about forming his own jazz band.
At the end of 1928 he started making his dream come true. In a few
months, Utyosov gathered motivated musicians with whom he put on
his first program. And, on March 8, 1929, the stage of the Leningrad
Small Opera Theater became home to the first debut of the new jazz
band. The success of this performance was more than what many hoped
for. This is how Leonid Utyosov himself attempted to explain it: "It
is easiest to say, that our success was in the novelty - such numbers
like our "thea-jazz" had not yet been performed. There was of course
jazz created by a blueprint, a foreign blueprint... We, however,
suggested a completely new, genre, untried, theatric style jazz...
Our whole program was sprinkled with jokes, sarcasm, humor. In
front of the audience not only a band was born, but also a company,
a gathering of the happy, not dampened by sadness, people, with
whom one could find joy and with whom one was certain to have a
good time... I think that the success of our first program was
grounded particularly in our optimism, and humor."
From that point to the end of his life, Utyosov became an irreplaceable
leader and a soloist of the self-created band. Although many
cursed and criticized Utyosov's jazz, the public fell in love with
the jazz immediately. He was the first performer
of such a wide array of songs, which left the whole country singing. Likewise,
the movie "Jolly Fellows" (1934) in which Utyosov starred in
the main role, with his band, was a great success. The music for the movie
was written by great Jewish composer and songwriter Isaak Dunaevsky. Possibly
it was the most close to Hollywood-style movies of the time and certainly
far above Soviet standards. In the years of the WWII, Utyosov,
with his jazz band, performed at the front lines, and their performances
brought liveliness back to the thankful listeners. On May 9, 1945, the
band participated in the celebration of the victory in the Moscow's downtown.
In 1965, Utyosov received the highest title of the People's Artist of
USSR. Leonid Osipovich Utyosov died on March 9, 1982. Luckily, his
voice remains on tapes and records, as well as in his books and poems.
And of course, the wonderful, remarkable artist will remain forever
in thankful memory of the people.
||In April of 1989, a new ship “Leonid Utyosov” was constructed
and entered service. In this reincarnation the great Russian singer
can visit his home town - Black Sea port Odessa, and sail around
the world visiting Europe and USA -- what Leonid Utysov never could
do during his life as a human.
In 1999, the Russian Postal Administration issued a set of 8 stamps
represented beloved Russian singers of the 20th century
and one of them was Utyosov. Nobody was surprised to see him in this
In September 2000 on the historical Deribassovskaya Str. in
the center of Odessa was opened a monument to Leonid Utyosov -
one of the most celebrated sons of the city.
Source: L.O. Utyosov, "Spasibo serdtse (Thank you,
Heart)", Moscow, Vagrius, 1999