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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Comedian Harmonists

Comedian Harmonists

From Wikipedia

The Comedian Harmonists were an internationally famous, all-male German close harmony ensemble that performed between 1928 and 1934 as one of the most successful musical groups in Europe before World War II. The group consisted of Harry Frommermann (tenor buffo), Asparuh "Ari" Leschnikoff (first tenor), Erich Collin (second tenor), Roman Cycowski (baritone), Robert Biberti (bass), and Erwin Bootz (pianist).
The hallmark of the Comedian Harmonists was its members' ability to blend their voices together so that the individual singers could appear and disappear back into the vocal texture. Its repertoire was wide, ranging from the folk and classical songs arranged by Frommermann to appealing and witty popular songs of the day by writers such as Peter Igelhoff, Werner Richard Heymann and Paul Abraham (composer).


In 1927, unemployed actor Harry Frommermann was inspired by The Revelers, a United States jazz-influenced popular vocal group, to create a German group of the same format. Frommermann held auditions in his flat on Stubenrauchstraße 47 in Berlin-Friedenau, and, once the group was assembled, it quickly began rehearsals. After some initial failures, the Harmonists soon found success, becoming popular throughout Europe, visiting the United States, and appearing in 21 films[1].
The members of the group were:
Ari Leschnikoff (1897–1978) first tenor
Erich A. Collin (1899–1961) second tenor
Harry Frommermann (1906–1975) Tenor buffo
Roman Cycowski (1901–1998) Baritone
Robert Biberti (1902–1985) Bass
Erwin Bootz (1907–1982) Pianist
The group's success continued into the early 1930s, but eventually ran into trouble with the Nazi regime: three of the group members - Frommermann, Collin, and Cycowski - were either Jewish or of Jewish descent, and Bootz had married a Jewish woman. The Nazis progressively made the group's professional life more difficult, initially banning pieces by Jewish composers, and finally prohibiting them from performing in public. The group's last concert was in Hannover on March 25, 1934.
Frommermann, Cycowski, and Collin subsequently fled Germany and formed a new group, which performed under the names "Comedian Harmonists" and "Comedy Harmonists" with a new pianist, bass, and high tenor. The remaining members in Germany likewise replaced their counterparts in a successor group named "Das Meistersextett" (as the authorities forbade an English-language name). Neither group was able to achieve the original success of the Comedian Harmonists, with the German group stifled by political in-fighting and heavy censorship, as well as the war draft (call-up); the emigrant group was unable to find work in America due to hostility to German entertainers, and they were unable to return to Austria, where they had enjoyed extensive success in the 1930s. The Bulgarian Asparuh Leschnikoff /Leshnikov/ returned to his fatherland in 1938 and started a successful career. By 1941, both groups had broken up. Although all members survived the war, they never re-formed after the war.
The group remained largely forgotten until filmmaker Eberhard Fechner created a four-hour black-and-white television documentary, in which he interviewed the surviving members, who were scattered throughout the world. The documentary aired over two nights in German in 1975 and caused a resurgence of interest in the music of the Comedian Harmonists, with their records being released on vinyl.
They won recognition from the musical entertainment industry in 1998 when they won the Echo Prize from the Deutsche Phonoakademie.
Following the death of the last surviving member of the group, Roman Cycowski, in 1998, German a cappella group Wise Guys wrote a tribute song, called Die Comedian Harmonists, which was released as part of the album 'Skandal' in Spring 1999.

Here's what I have put together from recordings that I have:

(I've done as much research on dates, etc, as I can.....hopefully with accuracy.....enjoy!)

Ali Baba (28.10.33)
Irgendwo auf der Welt (08.09.32) (from the film "Der blonde Traum")
Kabarett-Revue (Paul Nikolaus & Willy Rosen & Comedian Harmonists & Claire Waldoff)
Baby (13.02.31) (from the film "Das Lied vom Leben")
Mein Kleiner Grüner Kaktus (15.11.34) (One of the most famous songs, taken three months before the ban of the group)
Schöne Isabella Aus Kastilien (01.06.32)
Creole Love Call (15.09.33 Berlin/28.10.33 Paris)
Ein Neuer Frühling Wird In Die Heimat Kommen (29.09.33)
Der Onkel Bumba Aus Kalumba Tanzt Nur Rumba(01.06.32
Kleiner Mann Was Nun (11.05.33) (in the  film "Kleiner Mann - was nun?")
Gib mir den letzten Abschiedskuss (1932)
Amapola (23.11.38)
Am Brunnen vor dem Tore (Der Lindenbaum) (13.02.35)
An Der Schönen Blauen Donau (26.09.33)
Argentinisches Intermezzo (12.10.37)
Auch Ein Liebeslied (04.11.37)
Auf Dem Heuboden (10.09.34)
Auf wiedersehen leb wohl (06.09.32)
Ausgerechnet Donnerstag (17.12.28)
Barcarole (01.03.35)
Bei der feuerwehr (25.11.30)
Blume von Hawaii(14.08.31) (from the operetta "Die Blume von Hawaii", C.H. with OrchesterLewis Ruth)
Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen (14.08.31)
Das wirtshaus an der lahn (03.10.33)
Der Alte Cowboy (19.04.34)
Der Kleine Finkenhahn (06.11.36) Incomplete
Die Juliska aus Budapest (15.09.37) (from the operetta "Maske in blau")
Pojaukenhochzeitt (04.11.37)
Donkey Serenade(23.11.38)  incomplete (from the film "The firefly")
Drunt' In Der Lobau (15.10.36 or 12.11.36)
Ein bißchen Leichtsinn kann nicht schaden      (21.08.34) (from the film "Freut Euch des Lebens")
Ein Lied Geht Um Die Welt (31.08.33) (from the film "Ein Lied geht um die Welt")
Eins Zwei Drei Vier (17.09.32) (from the film "Zigeuner der Nacht")
Bitte recht freundlich, part II (21.02.29)
Gib Mir Deine Hände (The Vagabond king Waltz) (21.02.29) (From the film "The Vagabond King")
Gitarren spielt auf (10.12.34)
Guten Tag, gnädige Frau (30.10.30)
Guter Mond Du Gehst So Stille (21.09.33)
Wochenend Und Sonnenschein (22.08.30) "Happy Days are here again"
Hein spielt abends so schön auf dem Schifferklavier (26.10.34)
Holzhackerlied(06.02.35) (from the film "Der verlorene Sohn")
Ich Freu Mich So (14.10.37)
Ich Hab' Eine Tiefe Sehnsucht Nach Dir (06.09.37) (from the film "Zu neuen Ufern")
Ich Hab' Für Dich 'nen Blumentopf Bestellt (23.05.30)
Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madam (14.09.28 or 20.11.28)
Ich wollt ich wär ein Huhn (28.08.36) (
Ein Freund, ein guter Freund (22.08.30)
Immer An Der Wand Lang (17.11.36)
In Mexico (28.08.36)
Italienisches Intermezzo (incomplete) (22.08.28) (C.H. with Grete Waller, from the Operetta "Casanova")
Ja, Der Ozean Ist Groß (21.09.36)
Kannst Du Pfeifen Johanna? (12.04.34)
La Paloma (08.03.39)
Les Fenetres Chantent (26.05.37) (Incomplete)
Love Me a Little Today (London, Jun. 15, 1937)
Marie Marie(19.01.31) (in the film "Gassenhauer")
Maskenball Im Gänsestall (17.09.32)
Amapola (23.11.38)
Mia bella napoli (03.01.39 or 04.01.39) (incomplete)
Moment musical (Paris, Apr. 27, 1937) (incomplete)
Morgen muß ich fort von hier (12.05.38)
Musketier-Marsch (11.11.29) (from the revue "Drei Musketiere")
Muß i denn zum Städtele hinaus (09.01.33)
Ninna-Nanna a Liana (Paris, Apr. 28, 1937) (incomplete)
Perpetuum Mobile (23.05.38)
Qu' importe si tu pars (26.05.37) (incomplete)
Regentropfen, (die an Dein Fenster klopfen) (23.01.36) (incomplete)
Sah Ein Knab' Ein Röslein Steh'n (07.01.32 or 29.02.32)
Sandmännchen (04/36 or 27.04.37)
Schlafe, mein, Prinzchen, schlaf, ein (23.05.38) (incomplete)
Schlaf Mein Liebling (08.01.32) & Orchestra Marek Weber
Schöne Lisa (10.12.34)
So ein Ku kommt von allein (05.10.33) (from the film "Keine Angst vor Liebe")
Spanisches intermezzo (22.08.28) (incomplete) (C.H. with Grete Waller, from the operetta "Casanova")
Ohne Dich (04.09.33) "Stormy weather"
Studentenlieder-Potpourri medley, part II (15.12.36)
Sur Un Marché Persan (1937) (incomplete)
Ungarischer Tanz Nr.5 (28.02.35 or 01.03.35?) (one of the two last takes of the C.H.., they made the take with great secrecy on march 1. after the official ban)
Veronika, Der Lenz Ist Da (22.08.30)
Wenn die Sonja Russisch tanzt (21.08.34)
When The Sun Says Goodnight To The Mountain (22.04.37) (incomplete)
Whistle While You Work (08.12.38) (from the Disney-cartoon "Snow white and the seven dwarfs")
Wir sind von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt (23.05.30) (from the revue "Der blaue Engel")
Sous le ciel d'Afrique (Joséphine Baker & Comedian Harmonists) (29.09.35) ( from the film "Princess Tam Tam")
Whispering (17.12.34) 


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