Georges Boulanger

Gheorghe Pantazi, kown as Georges Boulanger (April 18, 1893 Tulcea - June 3, 1958, Buenos Aires) was a Romanian violinist, conductor and composer. Although his father was Greek, he was known as the typical Romanian virtuoso because of where he was born. He learned to play the violin as a child from his father, who was already the sixth generation musician. At the age of 12, Georges Boulanger got a scholarship to study at the Conservatory in Bucharest. Three years later he was heard by Leopold Auer who took him to Dresden with him and where he studied with him for the next two years. Other students of Auer were Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, and Mischa Elman.

In 1910, when Boulanger was 17 years old, Leopold Auer told him that his musical studies are finished and gave him a violin as a going away present. Boulanger played on this violin until his death. Under the recommendation of Auer, Georges Boulanger received a position of first violinist in Café Chantant in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was where many aristocrats frequented. With his background music, a mixture of Gypsy music, Balkan Folklore and Viennese Waltzes he found that many people in the public enjoyed his taste in music. This music is also known as salon music, hall music, or café concert music.

It was here in Russia that Georges Boulanger met a young girl from Estonia named Ellionorr Paulson. She was an intellectual student of law and medicine. They eventually got married and had two daughters, Nora and Georgette. In 1917 Georges Boulanger left Russia and returned back to Romania. In 1922/23 he went to Berlin where he played for his old audiences of Russian Aristocrats that now lived in Berlin. In the year 1926, his name suddenly became well-known. Boulanger played in radio transmissions that were broadcast live throughout the country. He played in the most famous houses in Berlin and other large European cities such as the Savoy Hotel in London. He was contracted by the Bote & Bock Edition who published his musical compositions.

Boulanger's music is essentially for consumption purpose: foxtrot, marches, tangos, one-steps, that is, every music type for dancing. Many of his works are easily recognizable by means of their well-known titles, namely: Beside the Lake, The Piper, Budapest Party, Autumn Moods, without making any reference to the most known works. He inspired himself in everything surrounding him, in his own state of mood or in Balkan folklore, like in "Romanian Legend", "Romanian Czardas", "Hungarian Rhapsody", "Hungarian Dance", "Hungarian Song and Czardas", "Romanian fantasias", or "Russian Intermezzo". His famous Avant de mourir would later be called My Prayer and a text by Kennedy would be added. It was charted in the number one spot for 21 weeks in 1958 in the USA. The song was played by Ambrose, Chet Atkins, Pat Boone, P.J. Proby (1964), Glen Campbell, Vikki Carr, Frank Chacksfield, Harry Connick Jr. (2004), Ray Conniff, Johnny Desmond, Jimmy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Hamilton, Lionel Hampton, Chick Henderson, Engelbert Humperdinck, Leslie (Hutch) Hutchinson, Jack Hylton, The Ink Spots (1939), Jay and the Americans (1969), Tom Jones (1967), Bert Kaempfert, Gene Krupa, Brenda Lee, Joe Longthorne, Joe Loss, Vera Lynn, Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge, Mantovani (1971), Dean Martin, Glenn Miller (1939), Gerry Monroe, Wayne Newton, Roy Orbison, Patti Page, Gene Pitney, The Platters (1956), The Righteous Brothers, Edna Savage (1956), Bobby Vee. The song appears also on the soundtrack of "Malcom X" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

Boulanger lived in Germany from the early 20s until 1948 when he moved to South America. He worked in Brazil then settled in Argentina for the rest of his days.


Jorge Umana Boulanger said...

Hi thank,s for his blog :Iam the grandsson fron Georges Boulanger and this is his ofizial web site .If you wisch you can conntact me ower my web site.
Best regards from Buenos Aires -Aegentina

Blog Leader said...

@Jorge: Glad to know you, glad to write about great Romanians. I will visit your site