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Adolph Ignatievich Rosner, known professionally as Ady Rosner and Eddie Rosner (26 May 1910 – 8 August 1976) was a Polish and Soviet jazz musician sometimes called "The White Louis Armstrong" or "Polish Louis Armstrong". This is in part because of his rendition of the St. Louis blues. He was a prisoner in the Gulag in the former Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

Eddie Rosner
Eddie Rosner.jpg
Background information
Birth nameAdolph Ignatievich Rosner
Born(1910-05-26)26 May 1910
Berlin, Germany
Died8 August 1976(1976-08-08) (aged 66)
West Berlin, West Germany



Early yearsEdit

He was born into a Polish Jewish family in Berlin. In 1916 when he was six years old, he was taken to Stern's Musical Conservatory in Berlin. He studied classical music but became drawn to jazz by the age of fifteen. In 1920 he left the conservatory as a violinist and entered the High School of Music in Berlin on the Kantstrasse near the Opera.


During the 1920s he switched to trumpet. He adopted the name "Eddie" and played with other Polish musicians in Marek Weber's orchestra. Rosner combined his classical music education with jazz. After playing with several bands in Berlin, he joined The Syncopators led by Stephan Weintraub and toured western Europe. In the 1930s, he was in Eddie Rosner and The Syncopators. By 1934 he had gained acclaim for his trumpet playing and ability to play two trumpets at once. During a tour of Europe in the 1930s the French celebrated his work and he was featured in magazines. During the 1930s Rosner worked with The Syncopators on the transatlantic steamer New York. He entertained passengers sailing between Hamburg and American seaports. By that time, he had made several recordings with the band and planned on starting a career in America. He corresponded with American drummer Gene Krupa. Rosner was considered one of the best jazz trumpeters in Europe and was compared to American trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

Escape from the NazisEdit

"In 1939, it didn't help being a Jew playing Negro music, even if your name is Adolf", joked Rosner.[citation needed] He left Nazi Germany for Poland. In 1939, in Warsaw, he married Ruth Kaminska, the daughter of Polish actress Ida Kaminska. His career and life could have been in jeopardy after the invasion of Poland by the Nazis on September 1, 1939, but he fled occupied Poland and escaped from the Nazis on the outbreak of the Second World War. In September 1939, he and a group of musicians from his band crossed the German-Soviet border and came to Białystok in western Belarus, which became part of the Soviet Union. Rosner was welcomed by Soviet authorities and allowed to perform in the Soviet Union.

Success in the USSREdit

In 1939 Rosner settled in Belostok and formed the Belostok Jazz big band, which became the State Jazz of the Belorussian Republic of the USSR. During the next two years, he and his band toured in Belarus and the Soviet Union. He was as well received in the USSR as he had been in Europe. Before and during the Nazi occupation of the USSR, his performances were often broadcast over the national radio of the Soviet Union, and several records were released and distributed across the USSR. Stalin called Rosner to say he enjoyed his performance. Rosner was made the leader of the Soviet State Jazz Orchestra. He and his band recorded versions of "Caravan" and "St. Louis Blues".


The Soviet Union banned all foreign art and music. Russian composers Sergey Prokofiev and Dmitry Shostakovich were censored. Rosner fell into disfavor and planned to emigrate from the Soviet Union.[1] He was arrested by the Soviet MGB in the city of Lvov in Ukraine as he was trying to cross the border with his family, charged with conspiracy and insulting the fatherland.[1][2] He was sent to a Gulag prison camp in Far East with a ten-year sentence. For the next eight years he continued to perform in the Gulag near Magadan and was allowed to play music to lift the spirits of other prisoners.[2]:225 He was released in May 1954, more than a year after Stalin's death.


In the mid-1950s, Rosner founded and led a Russian big band that toured the Soviet Union and made several recordings from 1954 until 1971. In 1956 he and his jazz band were filmed in the Soviet comedy The Carnival Night, gaining further popularity among movie fans. However, Soviet press and critics were instructed to avoid mentioning him in publications and critical works. Authorities restricted him from performing in major concert halls in the Soviet Union. During the 1960s he and his band were pushed into obscurity, although intellectuals and fans were aware of his musicianship.

By the early 1970s Rosner suffered from poor health. Sensing that the end was near, he applied to Soviet authorities for permission to immigrate to his birthplace and was allowed to return to his native Berlin in 1973. He did not earn any royalties in the Soviet Union and died in poverty three years later. Although during the war he gained widespread popularity with Allied troops, not only the Soviets, he fell into obscurity in the West.

A documentary about him, The Jazzman from the Gulag (Le Jazzman Du Goulag) by Pierre-Henry Salfati, won an arts documentary prize at the BBC Emmy awards.[3]


  1. ^ a b Kolleritsch, Elizabeth (May 2015). "Jazz in Totalitarian Systems (Nazi Germany and Former USSR): The Life of the Trumpet Player Eddie Rosner". European Scientific Journal. 2.
  2. ^ a b Starr, S. Frederick (1983). Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union. Oxford Univ Press. p. 215.
  3. ^ "British TV's Emmy glory". BBC. 21 November 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2019.

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