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Musica non grataMusica non grata

Tango from Warsaw

Musica non grata

Jeruzalémská synagoga
Musica non grata

Basic information


Jeruzalémská synagoga

Approximate running time

1 hour 10 minutes, no intermission

Mark Burman, BBC

 “Beautiful and fascinating. The tango in Yiddish is for me the perfect match.” 

It was in 1910 when tango mania hit Eastern Europe, after having swept through the West. Yet whereas passionate dancers in France and Germany revelled in true Argentinian “orquestas típicas”, the majority of Eastern Europeans only knew this type of music from recordings...


  • 2023-2024
  • 2024-2025


That was also the case of Poland, which in 1919 regained its independence. A significant proportion of Polish musicians – both classical and popular – were of Jewish heritage. The cultural life thrived at theatres, cabarets and cinemas, where a variety of music styles mingled, including the traditional Jewish genre of klezmer. In the 1910s, Warsaw witnessed the birth of Yiddish tango, an eclectic dance permutation, blending Slavic, Jewish and Argentinian cultural traditions, a form that over the next two decades would be an integral, highly unique part of Polish musical life.

 The Polish-Israeli singer Olga Mieleszczuk is currently one of the world’s finest proponents and performers of Yiddish tango, which has also encoded the tragic fate of the Polish Jews during WWII. In her programmes, featuring a repertoire ranging from the 1920s to the 1940s, she has ingeniously combined dance and contemplative music, interconnecting them in an absorbing manner with the stories of the greatest “Old World” Yiddish tango stars. New arrangements organically fuse modern, contemporary sound with the singular esprit of pre-war tango, which deviated from the original Argentinean form, embracing a softer, more lyrical sound influenced by klezmer. The programme of the concert, held within the Musica non grata project, includes songs in Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew, popular melodies, as well as forgotten tunes, into which Olga Mielescszuk breathes new life. “Most of the artists who invented and nurtured the high-quality Yiddish tango in Poland perished in the Holocaust. My mission is to keep their legacy alive,” says the artist.


Author unknown
Shpil ze mir a tango oys in jidish (Play Me a Tango in Yiddish)

Fajga Jofe (1914–1991)
Yosl un Sore-Dvoshe (Yosl a Sore-Dvoshe / Yosl and Sore-Dvoshe)

Henryk Wars (1902–1977) / Andrzej Włast (1895–1943)
Zapomnisz o mnie (You Will Forget Me)

Jerzy Petersburski (1895–1979)
Tango Milonga

Fajga Jofe (1914–1991)
Bal u starego Joska

Author unknown
Varshe (Warsaw)
Grzech (A Sin)
Chassidic song from Ukraine

Szaja Szpigiel (1906–1940) / Dawid Bajgelman (1887–1944)
Mach Tsu Di Eyegelekh Close Your Little Eyes)

Author unknown
Miasteczko Bełz (Town Bełz)
Abram ja ci zagram (Abram I Will Play For You)

Zygmunt Białostocki (1887–1943)