Henryk Wars

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Henryk Wars
HenrykWars 1944.jpg
Henryk Wars (1944)
Henryk Warszawski

29 December 1902
Died1 September 1977
California, United States
Other namesHenry Vars

Henryk Wars (born Henryk Warszawski, after 1947 Henry Vars; 29 December 1902 – 1 September 1977) was a Polish pop music composer. He composed scores for 50 films during the interwar period in Poland and 60 more in the United States.

He composed dozens of hits for revue-theatres and films including Miłość ci wszystko wybaczy (Love Will Forgive You Everything) sung by Hanka Ordonówna, Umówiłem się z nią na dziewiątą (I Have a Date with Her at Nine) and Sex Appeal sung by Eugeniusz Bodo, Ach, jak przyjemnie (Ah, How Lovely!) and Już nie zapomnisz mnie (Now, You Will Remember Me) sung by Aleksander Żabczyński.[1]

Wars also composed symphonies, now obscure though available on the Internet,[2] as is his Piano Concerto of 1948. After emigrating to the United States in 1947, he changed his name to Henry Vars. He was a friend of John Wayne.


Wars was born to a Jewish musical family in the Russian partition of Poland. He began studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, but soon obtained a scholarship to the Music Conservatory in Warsaw, from which he graduated in 1925, having studied composition with Professor Roman Statkowski and Emil Młynarski. He was a long-time music director for Syrena Rekord.[3] In 1927 he composed a song called New York Times ("I do nothing all day but read the New York Times") that was sung in the Karuzela (Merry-Go-Round) Theatre by Tadeusz Olsza and recorded by Henryk Gold's Orchestra for Syrena Rekord. His first big hit, though, was Zatańczmy tango (Let's Dance a Tango), composed in 1928 for Stanisława Nowicka and Eugeniusz Bodo. He was hired as a pianist for the Morskie Oko theater and joined Henryk Gold's band.[1]

During the 1930s, he composed songs for a string of musical comedies in Poland, and his importance there is comparable to that of Irving Berlin in America. His melodies from this period (along with those of Jerzy Petersburski and Zygmunt Wiehler) are still quite popular in Poland to this day, with his most popular songs often associated with pre-war Lwów. Recent recordings include Ach, śpij kochanie (Ah, Sleep My Darling) by Grzegorz Turnau and others, as well as many performances of Tylko we Lwowie. In 2002, the song Umówiłem się z nią na dziewiątą (I have a date with her at nine) appeared in The Pianist directed by Roman Polański.

He composed his first film score for Na Sybir in 1930, after gaining fame as a conductor and performer at various Warsaw cabarets and theaters including Morskie Oko, Hollywood, and Wielka Rewia. He composed scores for Paweł i Gaweł, Szpieg w masce (A Masked Spy), Piętro wyżej (Upstairs), and Zapomniana melodia (A Forgotten Tune) films. "He was the pioneer of swing music in Poland."[1]

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the Polish Army and served in the defense of Poland in 1939. He was taken prisoner of war by the German army but managed to escape from a stopped train. He organized the big band Tea-Jazz in Soviet-occupied Lwów in 1940. He composed his first symphony at this time. In late 1941, he and his musicians joined the Polish II Corps of General Anders as part of the Polska Parada cabaret. After being demobilized from the army in 1947, he emigrated to the US.[3]

In the US, he changed his name to Henry Vars and after a period of struggling and poverty, managed to resume his musical career. He was John Wayne's friend.[4] His songs were sung by such well-known stars as Margaret Whiting, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Brenda Lee and Dinah Shore. He composed the score and the title song for the Flipper movie and television series, as well as Daktari. He also composed score for the 1956 western film Gun the Man Down.


Pre-World War II songs[edit]

Wartime songs[edit]

From Piosenki z plecaka Helenki. See external link below.

  • Polacy, do broni
  • Może dzień ... może rok
  • Po mlecznej drodze
  • Ochotniczki
  • Malowane usta
  • Za pięć dwunasta
  • Gdzie najlepiej
  • Ochotniczka Helenka

Selected filmography (soundtrack)[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Henryk Wars bio in notes".
  2. ^ collectionCB2 (2012-10-03), Henryk Wars (1902-1977) : Symphony No. 1 (c. 1940) **MUST HEAR**, retrieved 2016-09-25
  3. ^ a b Fater, Isaschar (1970). Jewish Music in Poland between the Two World Wars, p. 296
  4. ^ "East Silver". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11.
  5. ^ "Tylko ty (youtube)".

External links[edit]