370,00 dollars awaited Rezső Seress in the United States, but he chose instead to remain in Hungary and finally, he choked himself to death with a wire.
Rezső Seress was born on November 3, 1889, in a poor family of Jewish origins. He finished his studies early and wanted to become an acrobat, but he suffered an accident. Therefore, he became an actor, but after WWI nobody had money to watch plays in the theatres. However, since for Hungary it was forbidden to produce vinyl records and only a few had radio receivers those days
many went to listen to live music in small pubs.
It did not take long until almost everybody crooned his songs in Budapest. You can listen to one of his hits below:
He married the daughter of a wealthy military officer who was regarded to be the most beautiful woman in Budapest, and who was much taller than him. At the same time, his songs were full of melancholy and disappointment, and this made him very popular.
Songs came one after the other even though
he could not even read music
so he asked a graduate from the Music Academy to help him write down what he was whistling. Interestingly, the song that brought him world-wide fame was not completely his own work. Originally, its title was The world is ending, and it was about the despair caused by the ending of the war in prayer, about the sins of people. However, poet László Jávor rewrote its lyric and changed its title to “Gloomy Sunday” in which the main protagonist commits suicide because his lover died.
it seemed that it would be forgotten in no time.
However, a maidservant committed suicide and police found the lyrics of the Gloomy Sunday in her hands. Later, a ministerial advisor shot himself dead in a car, and the police found the lyrics of the song in his hands, too. Budapest gossip tells even today that László Jávor, who had very good connections to the police, arranged that the two suicide committers
had the lyric of that song in their hands.
Nobody knows for sure. But the song became very popular, and it was released in English in 1936 with revised lyrics by Ray M. Lewis clearly referring to suicide:
“Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided to end it all
Soon there’ll be candles and prayers that are sad I know
Let them not weep let them know that I’m glad to go”
However, even though he was well-known from China to the United States, he remained in Budapest and played his songs in the same pub in the 7th district.
During WWII, his life was saved by a German officer who was a huge fan of his work while during the Communism, Hilda Gobbi rescued him. 370,000 dollars was awaiting him in the United States because Gloomy Sunday was translated to 28 languages and idols like Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra sang it. But he did not travel there because, according to him, he was afraid of heights. American authorities did not transfer him the money because Hungary owed indemnity after WWII.
Thus, he lived in extreme poverty in Budapest and in 1968, he decided to commit suicide. Even though he survived jumping out of a window, later
in the hospital, he choked himself to death with a wire.
More about the Gloomy Sunday HERE. If you want to read about the Hungarian film director who conquered Hollywood, click HERE. HERE you can read about Adolph Zukor, the Hungarian man who created Hollywood.