Eddie (Adolf, Ady, Jack) Rosner

26.05.1910 - 08.08.1976 in Berlin


He is the youngest of 6 children of a family of tradesmen of Jewish origin. From the age of 5, he stands out as a child prodigy because of his extraordinary musical talents. His mother, who plays the piano herself, encourages and develops his skills. He undertakes thorough musical training on the violin and piano, at first at the Stern Academy in Berlin and then at the Hochschule für Musik (with Carl Flesh).


At the age of 16, he is already playing with various small dance bands, which abound in the Berlin of the nineteen twenties (he plays, notably, with A. Spiegel, Rose Petösi, Mitja Nikisch). He rapidly abandons the violin and piano in favour of the new world of jazz and to concentrate exclusively on the cornet which he will play throughout his life.


According to Russian legend, this instrument was made of pure gold. It is the sound of this cornet - very melodious, clear and distinguishable amongst all instruments of its kind - that created this myth.


At the beginning of 1929, at the age of 18, he meets the conductor Stephan Weintraub during a musical session of the Mitja Nikisch group with the Weintraubs Syncopators, who were already very well known by this time; Stephan Weintraub immediately includes him in his band. In August, he participates in the recording of the titles "Sweet Sue, just you", "Am Sonntag will mein Süßer mit mir segeln gehen", "Ich kauf’ mir ‘ne Rakete", "Wenn wieder Frühling ist" and many others. Weintraub, who is more than 10 years older than him, becomes his advisor and patron. Between 1929 and 1934 the orchestra gives numerous concerts in Germany and throughout most of Europe. Several films are made of the musicians, including "Heut kommt’s drauf an" with Hans Albers, "Ich und die Kaiserin " (the Emperess and I) with Willi Fritsch and the famous " Der blaue Engel " (The Blue Angel) with Marlène Dietrich. A large numbers of records are made and the concerts are broadcast on the radio.


In 1934, during a visit to a jazz club in Brussels, Rosner meets Louis Armstrong. In the cutting contest Rosner finishes in second place, behind Satchmo. He so impresses the great musician that the latter gives him his photo with the dedication "To the white Louis Armstrong from the black Ady Rosner ". It appears that this meeting stimulated Rosner in his desire to create his own jazz group. He leaves Weinlaub's band and goes (via Denmark, because he can no longer enter Germany) to Poland, where he is offered the opportunity to create his group. Today Rosner is recognized as the founder of Polish jazz because his jazz band was the first in Poland.


From Poland, the Ady Rosner Band leaves for tours in France (Côte d’Azur, Montpellier and then, in 1938 – Paris, Salle Pleyel with Maurice Chevalier), Denmark, Latvia and other countries. In Paris, the orchestra records ten titles with Columbia, one of which has unfortunately never been published.


Back in Warsaw in 1939, he meets Ruth, the daughter of Ida Kaminski, actress and Director of the Jewish Theatre, (in 1966 the film « Das Geschäft in der Hauptstrasse », in which Ida Kaminski was the leading actress, won an Oscar). Ida refuses to let them get married (cf. Ruth Kaminski's book « I don’t want to be brave anymore »).


In Septembre 1939 the nazis invade and destroy Warsaw. Rosner, who speaks German, enables the Kaminski family to flee, thus saving them from certain death in the Ghetto. On foot and in dangerous conditions they cross Poland towards the East (Bialystok) with the rest of the formerly famous Ady Rosner Band. They come under the protection of the Russian army. Rosner receives identity papers on which he gets Ruth registered as his wife. They continue to Lemberg (Lwow) where the group plays in the « Bagatelle » bar. With its rhythms hitherto unknown to the Russians and its comical interludes, the Band becomes the leading show in town.



After attending one of its concerts, the jazz lover, Pantelejmon Ponomarenko, first secretary of the communist party of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belorussie, takes the group (and Rosner) under his “wing”. Thanks to this personal protection and permanent financial support, Rosner creates – in the tradition of the Big Band – the first Public Jazz Band of the BSSR. Between 1940 and 1945 he is the most famous and highest paid musician and composer of the Soviet Union. He lives at the « Moskva », the renowned Moscow hotel where he occupies a whole floor. The numerous tours which he undertakes in this enormous country on board a personal train, the concerts given on the front, the radio broadcasts and the large number of records made, build his legendary popularity.


He receives the Medal of Courage from Marshal Rokossovski. Soon, his name, at least, is known to the 300 million soviet citizens. His songs and compositions become timeless melodies. In the summer of 1941, Stalin orders the whole band to play just for him in a concert hall at Sotschi. The performance satisfies Stalin; the band survives …


In 1946, after the end of the war and the beginning of the cold war, the situation changes suddenly and dramatically for Rosner. Declared a “class enemy”, attacked and called a “decadent and capitalist musician” in the newspapers, Rosner tries to leave the Soviet Union with Ruth and his first daughter … without requesting the required permission. Ida Kaminski has already returned to Poland legally with her husband and son. Ruth stays behind with Rosner … In the autumn of 1946, they are arrested in Moscow. For 11 months Rosner is imprisoned in solitary confinement in the dreaded Lubjanka prison; as for his companion, she is deported to Kazakhstan. Under torture he makes a forced confession and this saves his life. Instead of being executed as a « traitor to the homeland » and « enemy of the people », he is deported in October in 1947 to Chabarowsk, then transferred to Tchukotka, and at the end of autumn 1949 he is finally transferred to Magadan, the capital of the GOULAG. His pardon is granted on 12 June 1954, one year after Stalin’s death but his good name will not be restored until 2000.


Even at the Goulag Rosner continues to work. General Derewjanko – “tsar and god” of Dalstroi (a labour camp) in Kolyma – wants to be entertained: the Camp Group of Performers and Musicians (Cultbrigade) directed until then by Marina Prokofieva-Bojko is taken in hand by Rosner himself – the Goulag Jazz Band is born. Music written at night, orchestra rehearsals by day, concerts in the Magadan camp WSO military Club in the evening, exhausting tours on “La Trace”… 5 years of artistic and sentimental partnership with Marina leading to the birth of their daughter Irina in 1953, are the basis of a deep friendship which will last even after their separation in 1955.


After his liberation from the camp, Rosner returns to Moscow. Once again Ponomarenko, now Minister of Culture, supports him and at the end of 1954 / beginning of 1955 Rosner creates a “State” Big Band, the Estraden Band, which quickly wins the recognition of the public and becomes one of the best national bands. The orchestra plays as a living and harmonious organism; the arranging and conducting talent of Rosner is immediately recognized. However, his repertory must be adapted to the soviet taste imposed by the communist censorship. Nevertheless, the orchestra plays – from an officially authorised programme – world famous pieces (see our album) classified under the general name of “Blues”.


Russia owes to Rosner, who was an inspiration to young performers, a whole generation of renowned musicians and singers. However, he is continually under surveillance. He is even forbidden from touring in the neighbouring socialist countries, where he is well known. This constant tension pushes him to seek contact with his family in the USA and Brazil.

However, he is authorized to travel privately in 1968 to attend the marriage of his first daughter in Poland. Then he goes to Czechoslovakia where the town of Prague honours him by entering him in the town’s Book of Honour and presents him with a trumpet engraved with a dedication from the Government.


Thanks to a request by his sister who lives in the United States, handed over by President Nixon during a State visit to Russia in 1972, the unbelievable happens: Rosner is authorized to emigrate to the United States! In January 1973 Rosner leaves the Soviet Union after 33 years in exile. Rosner is accompanied by his wife Gali, whom he married in 1957 and who has shared his life from since then. After a brief stay in the USA, he settles permanently in his home town of Berlin. Several months later, Irina and Gali’s daughter, Valentina, join him.


On 8 August 1976 Rosner dies in Berlin from a heart attack – poor and completely unknown in Germany and rejected and forgotten in Russia. Until 1994 his name was no longer mentioned, his music no longer played and the master bands of his original recordings had “vanished” ….