May 21st marks the 45th death anniversary of the prominent Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky /1889-1957/. The artist was widely known as the founder of the genre of "Pierrot's sad songs".
Vertinsky started his carrier in 1912 when he entered the Mamon Miniatures Theatre in Moscow, then worked at the Laughter and Fun Theatre. The artist had a success in performing short humorous stories, rhymed couplets and parodies he himself had composed. Two years later the critics wrote that he was "witty and pseudo." During WWI Vertinsky was a male nurse. Returning from the front, the singer launched everyday performances at the Petrovsky Miniatures Theatre. He wore a Pierrot mask. The success was loud and sensational. The critics accused the artist of "being decadent and banal", but the audience was ecstatic.
In 1919 the singer gave concerts in Ukraine and the "emigration wave" carried him to Turkey. Vertinsky performed in the USA, China, Germany and other countries, composed and performed his songs Palestinian Tango, Yellow Angel and A Farewell Dinner.
In 1943 Vertinsky was given permission to return homeland. He launched tours and gave concerts in concert halls. The singer repeatedly toured the whole country and gave 3,000 concerts. The artist was hurt by the silence of the press and the inability to record his songs. But Vertinsky believed that "in 40 years my art will be extracted from under the debris." The singer's records, music and lyrics were first published in the late 1970s.
On March 21st, 2002 a memorial plaque was placed on the Vertinsky's house in Moscow. At a ceremony Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi stressed that "it's never late paying the debts." "We have at last started to take Russian culture without exceptions and omissions," he added.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969