Udo Jürgens

Udo Jürgens, an Austrian singer and songwriter, passed away at age 80, in Gottlieben, Switzerland on December 21, 2014. He was called Europe’s Frank Sinatra, and a German voice of post-war Europe.

I learned about Jürgens passing from Russian blogs posted by my contemporaries. For some of them Udo Jürgens’ voice is the sound of their youth.  In the seventies, Jürgens was almost the sole German-speaking (and German-singing) western songwriter and performer whose songs were aired on the Soviet radio. I don’t know why he was so privileged, and there is no point in guessing. In 1983, the Soviet recording firm “Melody” has released a record of Udo Jürgens’ songs. But it was after my time. Interesting that all the songs on that record were in English, not German.

Another Jürgens “Russian connection” is rather ancient: before the Russian Revolution of 1917, his paternal grandfather was a general manager of the Moscow branch of the German Junker-Bank.

In 2014, Jurgens released his new album “In the midst of life” (Mitten in Leben), and in the fall toured Germany, Austria and Switzerland, giving 222 concert performances, attended by about half a million people.

Udo’s father was a farmer, and the Dadaist artist and sculptor Jean Arp (Hans Jean Arp) was his uncle. I’m not too keen on Arp — his sculptures make me think of disfigurement and birth-defects. But that’s beside the point. R.I.P. Udo Jürgens.Hans Jean Apt


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