Joseph Kobzon

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Joseph Kobzon
Иосиф Кобзон

HLR PAU
Official portrait of Iosif Kobzon (cropped).jpg
Born Iosif Davydovich Kobzon
(1937-09-11)11 September 1937
Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died 30 August 2018(2018-08-30) (aged 80)
Moscow, Russia
Cause of death Stage IV terminal cancer[1]
Occupation Singer, Deputy of the Russian State Duma
Years active 1958–2018
Title
Political party United Russia (until 2018)
Awards
Signature
Автограф Иосифа Кобзона.jpg

Iosif (Joseph) Davydovich Kobzon (Russian: Ио́сиф Давы́дович Кобзо́н; 11 September 1937 — 30 August 2018)[2] was a Soviet and Russian singer[3] of Jewish descent, known for his crooner style.

Early life[edit]

7-year old Iosif with his father's medals, 1944

Kobzon was born to Jewish parents in the mining town of Chasiv Yar, in the Donbass region of Ukraine.[4]

As a boy he demonstrated a talent for singing, winning numerous regional singing contests. He reached the national finals on two separate occasions, appearing in concerts dedicated to Joseph Stalin - a significant honour at the time.[5][6]

Despite his talent for singing, Kobzon went on to technical school to study geology and mining in Dnipropetrovsk,[4] as this was considered a lucrative vocation in the Soviet Union following the Second World War.[5] However, in 1959, following his 1956-1959 contact with professional music instructors in the Soviet Army where he was a member of the army's song and dance ensemble, he decided that music would be his preferred vocation.[4]

Stage career[edit]

In 1958, Kobzon started his singing career in Moscow, and enrolled to study at the Gnessin Institute.[4] In the next few years he made valuable contacts in Moscow's entertainment world, and was eventually given a chance by composer Arkady Ostrovsky to perform some of his music.[7] Initially, he performed in a duet with the tenor Viktor Kokhno, but was eventually offered a solo repertoire by many composers of the time such as Mark Fradkin, Alexander Dolukhanian (ru) and Yan Frenkel.[6]

In 1962, he recorded his first LP which included songs by Aleksandra Pakhmutova[8].

In 1964, he triumphed at the International Song Contest in Sopot, Poland, and in the following year he took part in the "Friendship" contest held across six nations, winning first prize in Warsaw, Berlin and Budapest.[6]

His popularity rose quickly, and demand for his singing saw him frequently performing two to three concerts a day. His most popular hit song at the time was titled "And We Have In The Yard".[5]

During Leonid Brezhnev's time in office (1964–82), there was hardly an official concert where Kobzon did not take part, and in 1987 he was awarded the honour of People's Artist of the USSR.[9]

His best-known song is Instants from the Soviet TV series Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973).[10]

In 1983, Kobzon was expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and reprimanded for "political short sightedness," after he performed Jewish songs during an international friendship concert, which resulted in the Arab delegations leaving in protest.[11] However, the following year, (1984) his reputation was restored, as he was honored with the USSR State Prize.[6]

Kobzon performed solo concerts in most cities of the former USSR. He was also bestowed the rare honour of performing international concerts tours as a representative of USSR in United States, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Argentina, Israel, Republic of the Congo, Zaire, Angola, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Greece, and Finland. Throughout his career, he shared the stage with many Western singers, including Liza Minnelli and Julio Iglesias.[6]

Although he officially ended his international touring career in 1997, he continued to appear in regular concerts before audiences around the world, and was frequently seen on Russian television.[12]

'Russia's Frank Sinatra'[edit]

Considering Kobzon's career, personality, spirit and singing style, many say that he is Russia's answer to the U.S. crooner Frank Sinatra.[13][14] Besides their singing careers, both Sinatra and Kobzon used their popularity towards an active involvement in politics.[14] The parallels between the two became the focus of media articles, books and novels claiming to have detailed knowledge of Russia's gangster world based on inside information obtained from the CIA.[15] Kobzon has since sued numerous publications for propagating unsubstantiated rumours, asserting his impeccable reputation and great honour among millions of Russian-speakers worldwide.[16] Kobzon was barred entry to the United States since 1995 when his visa was revoked on alleged mafia ties.[17]

Public life[edit]

Vladimir Putin congratulated Iosif Kobzon on his 80th birthday. Left: Ninel Kobzon, the singer’s wife, 11 September 2017
Vladimir Putin attended a gala concert devoted to the 80th birthday of Iosif Kobzon, 20 September 2017
Joseph Kobzon monument in Donetsk before the war, 2012

On many occasions, Kobzon performed in disaster areas and military hot-spots such as Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, and Chechnya during the Chechen War.[18]

In 1986, Kobzon was the first celebrity to visit and perform in the town of Chernobyl to cheer the nuclear reactor rescuers. Two years later, Kobzon was the first celebrity to visit and perform for victims of the 1988 Armenian earthquake.[18]

Kobzon was active in Russian politics since 1989. He was a Russian MP, and enjoyed landslide election victories.[19]

He claimed that his promotion of Jewish culture in the USSR contributed to the establishment of diplomatic ties between USSR and Israel.[18]

For many years, Kobzon presided over numerous charitable organisations. From 1989, he was Chair of The Movement for Honour and Dignity of Russian Citizens. He was also the president of the Humanitarian Initiatives Fund, and the president of a charitable fund known as ‘Shield and Lira” which is devoted to helping families of those killed and injured in action while on law enforcement duties.[18]

He was Chair of the Public Council of Moscow’s Police Department,[20] and leader of his political party "The Russian Party for Peace".[21]

From the early 1990s, Kobzon funded numerous orphanages around the country.[22]

In 2002, he risked his life as key negotiator in the Moscow theater hostage crisis. His involvement resulted in the release of a mother with three children and a British citizen.[23][24]

A monument depicting Kobzon was erected near his birthplace, in Donetsk, Ukraine in 2003.[20]

Between 2005 and 2007, he was the head of the State Duma's culture committee.[20]

In 2007, his name was entered into the Guinness Book of Records (Russian Edition) as the most decorated artist in the country's history.[25]

In 2009, Kobzon became the 24th individual to be named Honorary Citizen of Moscow.[26]

Stance on Ukraine[edit]

In March 2014, Kobzon was among 500 Russian artists who signed an open letter in support of Russia's annexation of Crimea.[27] As a result, in July 2014, Kobzon was included in a selected group of Russian artists banned from entering Latvia.[28]

Following the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution pro-Russian unrest broke out in Ukraine.[29] In late October 2014, Kobzon visited Donbass on a humanitarian mission, providing medications to hospitals in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions[30] and giving a free concert in support of the people of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.[31] As a result of the visit, Alexander Zakharchenko (then Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic ) bestowed on Kobzon the title of Russia's "honorary consul" to DPR.[32] However, the title has questionable meaning[33] as there are no reports of Russia formally sending Kobzon as an honorary consul to DPR nor ratifying this appointment.

On 3 September 2014 deputies of the Dnipropetrovsk City Council deprived Kobzon of the title of "Honorary citizen of Dnipropetrovsk", on 25 November 2014 Poltava City Council removed his title of "Honorary citizen of Poltava", and on 28 January 2015 Kramatorsk City Council removed his title of "Honorary citizen of Kramatorsk." In autumn 2014, Ukraine's national security service banned him from entering the country.[34] Kobzon responded by saying that "he shouldn't need a visa to visit his own homeland and birthplace."[35] He stated that he welcomed any decision by Ukraine's authorities to strip him of honours, as he didn't want to be "an honorary citizen of a country that is run by a fascist regime."[36] He requested that Ukraine also strip him of his People's Artist of Ukraine award.[37] In February 2015, Kobzon was awarded Honorary Citizenship of (controlled by the Donetsk People's Republic) Yenakiieve in Donetsk Oblast, and was later awarded the honour of 'People's Artist' by self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic.[38]

In February 2015, the European Union added Kobzon to its list of sanctioned individuals;[39] Kobzon responded that he was "very pleased and grateful."[32] He was "proud to be included in a list of people who are not indifferent to the fate of internally displaced Russian-speakers in Donbass and the fate of Russia".[40] Russian MPs spoke out in response to the EU sanctions, while Kobzon's fans launched a Twitter campaign in his support.[41] Russia's Foreign Ministry said that the new sanctions defy common sense, referring to the fact that the sanctions were imposed just one day after the Minsk II agreement came into force.[42] The agreement was reached between EU representatives (Germany and France), Ukraine and Russia, and was aimed at resolving the War in Donbass. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov condemned Kobzon's inclusion on the sanctions list as "vile" and "cynical", questioning the purpose of sanctioning "a highly respected national artist" whose mission in Donbass was "fundamentally humanitarian."[43] A ruling party MP, Vyacheslav Nikonov, spoke in parliament to support Kobzon, stating "We are with you. If they're all Charlie, then we are all Kobzon", playing on the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan used in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting.[41] In response to calls for retaliatory sanctions, Russia's culture minister Vladimir Medinsky said that Moscow could not impose equal sanctions on the EU, because "Europe simply lacks a star of the same standing as Kobzon."[41] Kobzon returned to Donbass one week following the EU's decision. This was his second humanitarian mission to the region delivering medications to hospitals in Luhansk, and giving another free concert "to support local residents".[44]

Personal life[edit]

Kobzon was married three times. In 1965, he married the singer, Veronika Kruglova (ru); then in 1969 Kobzon married Lyudmila Gurchenko, one of the best known comic actresses of the Soviet cinema. In 1971, he married Ninel Drizina with whom he had two children.[45]

Death[edit]

He suffered from prostate cancer from 2005.[46] He died on August 30, 2018.

Honours and awards[edit]

The title of Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation is awarded to Iosif Kobzon by Vladimir Putin, 30 April 2016
Kobzon in Donetsk in April 2015
Joseph Kobzon monument in Donetsk, 31 August 2018
Orders
Titles
Medals

Order Country / Org Year
100 lenin rib.png
Jubilee Medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary since the Birth of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin"  Soviet Union
1500th Anniversary of Kiev Ribbon bar.png Medal "In Commemoration of the 1500th Anniversary of Kiev"  Soviet Union
VeteranLaborRibbon.png
Medal "Veteran of Labour"  Soviet Union
Outstanding achievements labor.png Medal "For Labour Valour"  Soviet Union 1970
Ribbon 300 years to russian fleet.png Jubilee Medal "300 Years of the Russian Navy"  Russia
Ribbon Medal 850 Moscow.png Medal "In Commemoration of the 850th Anniversary of Moscow"  Russia
60 victory rib.png Jubilee Medal "60 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"  Russia
Medal Sholokhov.png Jubilee Medal "Great Russian writer Nobel Mikhail Sholokhov 1905–2005"  Russia
ForStrengtheningCombatCooperation2009 rib.png Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation"  Russia
200MVD rib.png Medal "200 Years of the Ministry of Internal Affairs"  Russia 2008
200MO rib.png Medal "200 Years of the Ministry of Defence"  Russia
ZaZaslperStavKr rib.png Medal "For Services to the Stavropol Territory"  Russia 2008
Medal "Glory of Adygea"  Russia 2008
Medal of Merit for the Chechen Republic  Russia
MedalAstana.png Medal "Astana"  Kazakhstan
Medal50Celina.png Medal "50 Years of Celine"  Kazakhstan
Awards
  • USSR State Prize (1984) - for concert programs 1980-1983
  • Lenin Komsomol Prize (1976) - for concert programs 1974-1975, active propaganda Soviet Komsomol songs
  • Russian Federal Security Service Award "for creative contribution to the patriotic education of Russian citizens" (2009)
Awards
Ovation
Preceded by
1994
Alla Pugacheva
Living Legend Award
1995
Joseph Kobzon
Succeeded by
1996
Edita Piekha

Kobzon was awarded honorary citizenship of 28 cities: Anapa, Saratov (1998), Donetsk (2007), Bishkek, Dnipro (deprived of the honor on 3 September 2014),[48] Kramatorsk, Noginsk, Poltava (deprived of the honor on 25 November 2014),[49] Slavic (1999), Chasiv Yar, Cherkessk, Artemovsk, Horlivka and others. He is also an honorary citizen of the Saratov Oblast, Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (abolished 1 January 2008) and the Transbaikal Oblast (23 September 2010).

On 31 March 2009, Kobzon was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Moscow - "for his services and contribution to the organization and development of national culture, long-term activities designed to meet the challenges of the patriotic and cultural education of the Russian people, as well as charitable activity in the city of Moscow and other Russian regions".

Other honours

A comprehensive list of all 300+ honours awarded to Joseph Kobzon can be viewed at http://iosifkobzon.ru/activity/rank/ (in Russian).

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://ria.ru/culture/20180830/1527529752.html
  2. ^ "Renowned Russian Singer, Lawmaker Joseph Kobzon Has Died". Retrieved 30 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "Moscow newspaper lists top Melodia pop artists". Billboard. 26 December 1981. p. 76. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Red Stars:Personality and the Soviet Popular Song, 1955-1991 by David MacFadyen, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001, ISBN 0773521062
  5. ^ a b c Интервью с братом певца
  6. ^ a b c d e Иосиф Кобзон: В Днепропетровске я всегда держу экзамен!
  7. ^ Непробиваемый
  8. ^ В Украине появились первые Фавориты Олимпа
  9. ^ "Звания — Официальный сайт Иосифа Давыдовича Кобзона". Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2018-09-03. 
  10. ^ "В Днепропетровске Кобзон впервые поцеловался". Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2018-09-03. 
  11. ^ Kobzon, Joseph (16 December 2001). "Not Enough of Her For All". Izvestia (Interview) (in Russian). Interviewed by Maria Podolskaya. Moscow. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Внуки Кобзона: Дед, а мы думали, ты только бабушку Нелю боишься!
  13. ^ [1] Archived 11 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b "ROLLING STONE RUSSIA - мужской журнал о современной культуре и обществе". Rollingstone.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ [2] Archived 13 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Новости NEWSru.com :: Кобзон готов предстать перед российским судом". Newsru.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  17. ^ "Legendary Soviet Crooner and Lawmaker Iosif Kobzon Dies". The Moscow Times. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018. 
  18. ^ a b c d [3] Archived 2 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "Iosef Kobzon". Everything2.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  20. ^ a b c Кто есть кто в современной культуре
  21. ^ "Кобзон возглавил партию мира". Newsru.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "Activities". Iosifkobzon.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  23. ^ правды», Александр ГАМОВ | Сайт «Комсомольской (2017-10-23). "Иосиф Кобзон: Жертв среди заложников могло быть меньше". KP.RU - сайт «Комсомольской правды» (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-08-31. 
  24. ^ "Иосиф Кобзон: "Обидно и стыдно за депутатов"". Радио Свобода (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-08-31. 
  25. ^ "Interesting facts". Iosifkobzon.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  26. ^ "Moscow City Duma". Duma.mos/ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  27. ^ "Musicians Seen As "Pro-Russian" Are Not Welcome in the UK and Latvia · Global Voices". Global Voices. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "Russian Pop Stars Banned From Entering Latvia Over Ukraine Crisis". The Moscow Times. 21 July 2014. 
  29. ^ Ukraine crisis timeline, BBC News
  30. ^ "Новости NEWSru.com :: Кобзон дал концерт на Донбассе, спев хором с лидером сепаратистов". Newsru.com. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  31. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Russia to recognise rebel vote in Donetsk and Luhansk". BBC News. 28 October 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Kan, Alexander (16 February 2015). "Profile: Iosif Kobzon, Russian crooner and MP". BBC News. 
  33. ^ Jonathan Warren. "Consular Chamber of Commerce: What is an Honorary Consul?". Consularchamber.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  34. ^ "Ukrainian City Strips Russian Singer Of Honorary Citizenship". RFERL. 25 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "Новости дня: Иосиф Кобзон приехал на родину в Донбасс, несмотря на запрет СБУ - 27.10.2014 сегодня". Dialog.ua. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  36. ^ "Кобзон заявил, что сам не хочет быть почетным гражданином Полтавы". РИА Новости. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  37. ^ "Кобзон попросил лишить его звания народного артиста Украины". Utro.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  38. ^ "Кобзон получил звание Народного артиста ЛНР". Forbes.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  39. ^ "EU Adds Famous Russian Singer and Deputy Ministers to Ukraine Sanctions List". The Moscow Times. 16 February 2015. 
  40. ^ "- 812". Online812.ru. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  41. ^ a b c "Fans protest as 'Russian Sinatra' hit by EU sanctions". Yahoo News. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  42. ^ "EU adds more Russians, eastern Ukrainians to sanctions list after successful Minsk talks". RT English. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  43. ^ "Зюганов счел циничным и подлым включение Кобзона в санкционный список". РИА Новости. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  44. ^ "Кобзон приехал в Луганск с концертами и гумпомощью". ФЕДЕРАЛЬНОЕ АГЕНТСТВО НОВОСТЕЙ. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  45. ^ Умер Иосиф Кобзон. Главные факты о российском певце родом из Украины
  46. ^ Не так страшен рак, как его малюют: звезды против онкологии
  47. ^ "Про присвоєння Кобзону Й.Д. почесного звання "Нар... - від 27.12.1991 № 18". Zakon1.rada.gov.ua. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  48. ^ "Кобзон лишен звания почетного гражданина Днепропетровска". Зеркало недели - Дзеркало тижня - Mirror Weekly. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  49. ^ "Кобзона лишили статуса почетного гражданина Полтавы, - нардеп - Полтава | РБК Украина". Conflict.rbc.ua. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 

External links[edit]