Rezső Seress was a proud Budapestian that wrote a hauntingly beautiful song during the depression. The song was blamed for a rash of suicides.
Rezső Seress and the Suicide Song
Address: Akácfa street 38 – Budapest
GPS: 47.499829, 19.065865
Rezső Seress lived most of his life in poverty in Budapest.
Being Jewish, he was taken to a labor camp by the Nazis during the Second World War. He survived the camp, and became a trapeze artist. After a debilitating injury, he concentrated on songwriting and singing.
Seress taught himself to play the piano with only one hand. As a piano bar entertainer, he wrote songs revolved around that lifestyle. Kispipa piano bar was a favorite of prostitutes, musicians, bohemian spirits and the Jewish working class.
But his most famous composition was titled Szomorú Vasárnap (“Gloomy Sunday“), written in 1933. This song achieved infamy as it was blamed for touching off a wave of suicides during the depression, and people referred to it as ‘the suicide song.’
Hungarian officials finally prohibited it.
It became a big hit in America, where Paul Robeson introduced an English version. One reason Rezső Seress remained in poverty, in spite of having a world-famous song, was that he never wanted to go to the USA to collect his royalties.
The tiny statue of Rezső Seress on the wall outside of the Kispipa restaurant. A touching memorial to a man who was able to interpret the pain of the Great Depression, maybe a little too well.
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