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TV-documentary on composer Paul Abraham by Janos Darvas
09 March 2008
Author: Kevin Clarke
 

There certainly is news from the operetta world, good news. For the first time ever, there will be a film documentary on Paul Ábrahám, composer of jazz-operetta classics such as "Viktoria und ihr Husar" (1930), "Die Blume von Hawaii" (1931) and "Ball im Savoy" (1932). The film director János Darvas has made a 60-minute film called "Bin nur ein Jonny. Der Operettenkomponist Paul Ábrahám" which will be aired on March 31st 2008 on ARTE. It is a co-production of ARTE and the German tv-station WDR.

What is noteable about this film is that Mr. Darvas has searched in every available archive for years and finally presents the full story of Ábrahám – not just the usual legends. Especially Ábrahám's dramatic fate in the USA, where he was sent to a mental hospital in 1946, and his equally dramatic return to German in the 1950s with the "airplane of the damned" (Flugzeug der Verdammten) is being given full attention here. Also, very rare film footage is being shown from Hungarian films Ábrahám made after 1933 that remained practically unknown in Germany till this very day.

The mix of interviews with experts, friends of Ábrahám and historians combined with the movie material makes for a vivid portrait of this sadly underestimated master of Silver Age jazz-operetta. The film also shows how much cheekier Ábraháms's post-1933 operettas – such as "Roxy und ihr Wunderteam" (1937) – are than the standard UFA-film operettas made in Nazi-Germany.

Hopefully, the film will stir new interest in Ábrahám. It seems that two new biographies on him are presently being written. So there is reason to be optimistic.

For the exact time of the airing of the film, please check the ARTE-website www.arte.tv

An extensive new newspaper article on Paul Ábrahám, written by Katja Behling for the Jewish magazine "tacheles", can be found in the "Press Archive/New Articles" of the Operetta Research Center Amsterdam-website.

Those who are not familiar with Ábrahám's music in all its original jazz-age glory might want to try the excellently restored Duo-phon Records CD called "Paul Ábrahám – Meine Mama war aus Yokohama. Originalaufnahmen von 1929–1933" (on sale online.)
 
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