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Published on Oct 4, 2007
It has been published that in 1922, on tour in Poland, Kremer, who was scheduled to sing Jewish songs in Warsaw, was the subject of an anti-Semitic riot. She told her version of events to Jessie Abrams of The Canadian Jewish Chronicle in a 1923 interview: "A series of three concerts had been arranged for me at the Philharmonic, a wonderful concert hall which had been built by a Jew and had then been presented by him to the city of Warsaw. When I arrived in Warsaw, my impresario told me that he had been forbidden to put any Jewish songs on the programme. I wanted to cancel the concerts but he begged me to think of all the expense he had one to. He was not a rich man, so I consented to carry out my contract. There were many Jews at the concerts and they kept on asking for Jewish songs, but I was helpless. At the third concert, Dr. Lepouner, a famous Polish Jew, jumped on the platform and asked me why I, a Jewess, was ashamed to sing Jewish songs. At first, I was a little bit frightened. Then I turned to the audience and told them all the truth. There was almost a riot. The next day, Dr. Lepouner wrote to the newspapers, and wanted to know how such things could be in the free Republic of Poland. So much feeling was stirred up that finally the authorities consented to a fourth concert, in which Jewish songs would also be included. The night before the concert, ten thousand people gathered in front of the hall threatening to kill me. That was my last view of unhappy Poland. Do you wonder that I find America so wonderful?" ...............................................................
My commentary: At the time of 1922 concerts of Kremer in Poland, sheet music with her songs were widely published, her records with Yiddish repertoire were also advertised. This is not true what she used to say later that she never returned to Poland: in 1932/33 she made a series of recordings for Polish Columbia (Yiddish repertoire included). The building of Warsaw Philharmonic was finished and opened as early as 1901 and "had been built" by a Polish architect, Karol Kozłowski. "Ten thousand people(...) threatening to kill me" sounds like a pure nonsense of the Diva (if these were actually her words), especially in the light of the fact how freely Jewish culture was able to develop in pre-war Poland; some of my videos can be the proof hereof.
Photo: poster of Isa Kremer's concerts in Haifa, 1935.