The Jazzman from the Gulag

Eddie Rosner and his orchestra

From Hitler to Stalin, the merciless fate of a jazz trumpet player.

The trumpet player Eddie Rosner, nicknamed the "White Armstrong", was born in Berlin in 1910: at the wrong time and the wrong place for a Jew of Polish origin playing Negro music... Trapped in Poland in 1939, he ended up in the train of the Red Army and became a star in the Soviet Union. But in 1945 he was sentenced to ten years in a gulag for treason.

He was deported to Kolyma, the peninsula of sinister memory where each year three thousand new convicts arrived; among them there were always musicians able to play in Eddy Rosner's orchestra. In the white hell, he continued to play… Released at the death of Stalin, he became a star again and was nicknamed the Tsar, but he was a tsar with no visa. Eventually authorised to leave the USSR in 1972, he went to Germany, where he was completely unknown and where, without care or support, he died in 1976.

All the images we see of Rosner, all the witness accounts from his comrades in misfortune, sketch such a friendly portrait that we start to dream of a time machine to go back to 1939, to divert him from going to Poland and head him in the direction of the West…

Movie directors : Pierre-Henri Salfati, Thierry Beauvert
Music genre : Jazz

Duration : 58 min
Production date : 1999
Production : © Idéale Audience / France 3
Available version(s) : EN, FR



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