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Leo Fuld

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Leo Fuld (1971)

Leo Fuld (b. 29 October 1912 in Rotterdam; † 10 June 1997 in Amsterdam; real name Lazarus Fuld) was a Dutch-American singer of popular Yiddish songs.

Life and musical career

Fuld was born the third of ten children in a poor Jewish family. His musical talent showed early in liturgical singing in the synagogue, so he received a grant from a third party to enable him to undergo training as a chasan. His parents also expected him to train as a chasan.

Since his sixteenth birthday, Fuld sang “Sjoels” (Jewish laments) in the province, but also secular songs. Initially he performed in a Rotterdam pub, singing sixty songs for one guilder. His success on the stage prompted him to attend an audition in 1932 in London at VARA radio, where he was then discovered and hired. He thus became the first Dutch singer to appear on British radio. The famous big band leader Jack Hylton heard him and signed a three-year contract with him, which took him to almost all the major stages in the British Isles and on the continent.

1933 saw his first recordings in Berlin. In 1936 he was engaged by Clifford C. Fischer for the French Casino in New York and later for the Paramount Theatre on Broadway. In 1938 his visa for the USA expired and he had to return to Europe. He then applied for an immigrant visa and was able to escape to the U.S. in 1940 just before German troops invaded the Netherlands. In exile, he performed on shortwave radio broadcasts for his homeland on behalf of the Dutch government-in-exile until he heard of the fate of his family members, many of whom were murdered by the Nazis. As a result, he was no longer able to take the stage.

But since he also had a talent for writing, he wrote lyrics for actors and singers like Milton Berle, the Ritz Brothers, Jackie Miles, Jackie Gleason, Jan Murray, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. He also wrote a revue “Fun For Your Money” which he produced and directed.

In 1948 he returned to the Netherlands as an American citizen, where he was enthusiastically received. He was immediately offered the chance to sing in Amsterdam’s largest theatre. However, Fuld had not been on a stage for five years and was afraid of the performance, but it turned out to be a great success. His contract was extended to six weeks. Engagements from all over the world followed.

During a guest performance of his revue in Paris, he visited a small Yiddish club. There he heard a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto sing a song that touched him deeply: “Wohin soll ich geh’n?” (Vi ahin zol ich geyn?). Fuld asked the composer for a copy and wrote the English lyrics to it in England. Titled “Where can I go?”, he recorded the song for Decca Records; with some 7.8 million records, it became his best-selling title. Fuld sang this song on television on the Milton Berle Show, with Perry Como and on the Frank Sinatra Show; stars such as Ray Charles and Steve Lawrence also included it in their repertoire. It also found enthusiasm and recognition with Billie Holiday, Al Jolson and Édith Piaf.

Tours have taken him to Argentina, Chile, Brazil, North Africa, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and throughout Europe. For ten weeks he was on stage with Edith Piaf at the ABC Theatre in Paris. Emperor Haile Selassie engaged him for a performance on the occasion of his daughter’s wedding in the imperial palace in Addis Ababa.

In 1956 he founded his own nightclub “Sabrah” in New York before moving to Las Vegas.

On his 80th birthday, the singer returned to the Netherlands. With the producer Mohamed el-Fers and the arranger Kees Post he produced the CD “The Legend” for Hippo Records in 1996. The CD contains his best known Yiddish songs, but this time in oriental style. It earned him the nickname Sergeant Pepper of Yiddish music (Abe Goldstein).

At the age of 84, Fuld married a fourth time. He died a year later at his residence in Amsterdam.

Discography

  • 1933 A Brievele der Mamme/I drove home (Odeon)
  • 1933 My Shtetl (Odeon)
  • 1933 Roumanian creche (Victrola)
  • 1934 A Klesmer Yingel (Oi Mamme! Bin ich farliebt) (Victrola)
  • 1934 My Yiddish Mama (Victrola)
  • 1935 Oif’n pripetshik (Victrola)
  • 1935 Fraitag oif der Nacht (Victrola)
  • 1935 Shein like the Lewon (Victrola)
  • 1936 Yiddish ges’l (Odeon)
  • 1936 Dos Pintele Yid (Victrola)
  • 1936 Mo-me-le (Victrola)
  • 1937 Az the Rebbe tantst (Victrola)
  • 1937 The Siderel (Yiddele Briederel) (Victrola)
  • 1937 Gesselach (Victrola)
  • 1938 A Letter to My Mother / You’re the Sweetest in the Land (HMV)
  • 1939 My Yiddish Mame (Ariola)
  • 1939 Resele (Victrola)
  • 1939 My Mother Stayed in Hungary (Victrola)
  • 1947 Wo ahin soll ich geh’n(Where can I go ), with the orchestra Bruce Campbell and the Wardour Singers (Decca)
  • 1947 Pigalle(Homeland), with the Orchestra Lew Stone (Decca F 9187; Decca DR.13631)
  • 1948 Wuss gewen is gewen(I love You much too much), with the orchestra Tuschinsky (Elite Spezial 9080)
  • 1948 A brivele der mamme / The old zigoiner, with the orchestra Lew Stone (Saturne 1055)
  • 1948 Moshiah, with the orchestra of Guy Luypaerts (Saturne)
  • 1950 Mosiach / Mein steitale (Arton, under license from Saturne; Hed Arzi 10919)
  • 1950 Mazel / Wie ahein soll ich gein, with the orchestra Guy Luypaerts and Grisha Farfel, trumpet (Hed-Arzi 855/13320 under license from Saturne)
  • 1950 Zigany Melody / Miserlu, with Grisha Farfel, trumpet, and his orchestra (Melodisc 5019)
  • 1951 Yaass / Pigalle (London 701)
  • 1951 Oif’n Weg steht a Boim (Saturne)
  • 1952 Misirlou (Vogue)
  • 1952 Glik (Tikva)
  • 1952 The old Tsigayner (Tikva)
  • 1952 Bessarabia, with the orchestra Abe Ellstein (Hed-Arzi)
  • 1952 A Sudenyu (Tikva)
  • 1953 L’émigrant (Disque Columbia)
  • 1953 Ikh zing (Tikva)
  • 1954 In Concert, recording from the Ohel Shem Concert Hall in Tel-Aviv on 26 July 1954 (Vogue 25cm LP85)
  • 1954 The Emigrant (Telefunken UX 4673)
  • 1954 You got to have a little Mazl (Tikva)
  • 1954 Leo Fuld sings Roumanische, Kretchme and other Yiddish Songs (Hataklit HI 25005)
  • 1954 Joue tzigane / Le moulin tourne (Saturne FR 1034)
  • 1954 Letter to my Mother / You’re the sweet (London 827)
  • 1956 Leo Fuld at the Tuschinski-Theatre Amsterdam: Ca / The Sheikh of Araby / Tsigany Melody / My Jiddishe Mama (Telefunken hx-1012 ep)
  • 1956 Ay je l’aime (Vogue EPL 7140)
  • 1957 Leo Fuld with the orchestra Anton Kersjes: Der Emigrant / Oif’n Weg steht a Boim / Shein wie die Lewoneh / Weil du bist mein (Telefunken ux-4673 ep)
  • 1958 Leo Fuld with Martin Roman and his orchestra (Simcha Records JLP 2)
  • 1959 Poylish Yidl (Hataklit)
  • 1960 Zigany Melody (Tikva)
  • 1965 Rumaynisher Kretshme (Hataklit)
  • 1965 Leo Fuld with orchestra conducted by Pi Scheffer (Embassy/CBS Israel 31188)
  • 1965 Leo Fuld Chante en Français: Kaddish / Momele / Paris / La penombre (CBS 6311)
  • 1967 A Yiddish Momme (Artone MDS S – 3022)
  • 1967 Doina / Play Gypsy (Artone)
  • 1970 A Yidish Momme (Vogue HJV 119)
  • 1972 My Yiddish Mama (CBS)
  • 1975 Dat kleine beetje geluk op aarde (European club)
  • 1989 My Yiddishe Mamme (CNR 100.248)
  • 1991 Shalom Israel (Columbia 4681322)
  • 1997 God Zegen Nederland EP, his last song (Hippo Records 97001)
  • 1997 The Legend, his last album (Hippo Records 97002)
  • 1998 Chants Et Traditions Yiddish with Leo Fuld: Mosiagh / Dona, Dona, Dona (Disques Versailles 5099748955425)
  • 1999 Leo Fuld – My Yiddishe Mama (Sony BMG)
  • 2002 Shalom Israel (Sony BMG)
  • 2002 Slavia The Songs of the East (2 CD-Box, Virgin)
  • 2003 Leo Fuld Greatest Hits (Sony BMG)
  • 2004 The Baby Boom Generation (3 CD-Box, with Leo Fuld: Wo ahin soll ich geh’n) (Livr. Belgique)
  • 2005 My Yiddishe mama (Artone ART 2005006)
  • 2006 Vi ahin sol ich gayn (Hatikvah Y LF 1010)
  • 2006 Leo Fuld – Collections (Sony Music)
  • 2007 Chansons de Maman, with Leo Fuld: Maman, fais dodo (Marianne Melodie)
  • 2008 Yiddish songs, with Leo Fuld: Zigany melody and Yaas (Disques Office 91189)
  • 2008 The Legend – Édition anniversaire (Hippo Records 97002)

Documentaries

  • 1993 The International Singing Star Leo Fuld (Dutch Television)
  • 1994 Ik zing de Wereld rond (Dutch television; script: Leo Fuld)
  • 1995 A Yiddish X-Mas in Amsterdam (Dutch Television)
  • 1996 The Legend (only a trailer for a TV series, script: Leo Fuld, Mohamed el-Fers)
  • 1997 Leo Fuld in Kopspijkers (Dutch television)
  • 1997 Fuld in Railand (Dutch television)
  • 1997 The King of Yiddish Music Meets Queen Beatrix (Dutch Television)
  • 1997 Oif’m Weg stant mal a Boim – Goodbye Leo (Dutch television)

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