Music of Henry Vars

By Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (other events)

Saturday, August 26 2017 4:00 PM 6:00 PM

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

and the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles

with USC Polish Music Center



Performing Hit Polish and American Songs by

in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of his death

Henryk Warszawski was in born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1902. After graduating from the Warsaw Conservatory of Music in 1925, Warszawski began to compose and arrange popular tunes, working with a variety of performers, at first mostly in a cabaret setting. By the very end of the 1920s he started to work in film, scoring the first Polish “talkie,” Na Sybir (To Siberia). Adopting the stage name "Wars," he became a prolific film composer. More than a third of all Polish films made in the 1920s and 1930s were scored by Wars, and many of his screen melodies ended up on the singles’ hit lists. Most songs written by him in the 1930s still enjoy the timeless popularity accorded to the show tunes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin in America.

During World War II, Wars was sent to the front. He was taken prisoner, but escaped a POW train transport and reached Lwów (then under Soviet occupation) in 1940. Meanwhile, his wife and two children were forced to leave their apartment in Warsaw and move into the Warsaw Ghetto. In Lwow, Vars gathered other refugee musicians, organizing a musical theatre performing group and touring the Soviet Union. In early 1941, Vars was able to obtain official papers from the Soviet authorities allowing his wife and children to leave the Warsaw Ghetto. When they got to Lwow, they were told Vars was on tour. As Germans began to bomb Lwow, Vars' wife and children boarded trains heading east and began a long trek to find him and be reunited.

In 1947, Wars and his family left for the United States. Changing his name to “Henry Vars,” he settled in Los Angeles. Initially Vars joined film studios as arranger, copyist, conductor and the anonymous composer of numerous film cues. Later he composed a number of film scores, including several Westerns made, among others, by John Wayne’s production company. His most famous achievement was the soundtrack for feature film Flipper as well as music for the follow-up television series based on the same story.

Vars' most unduring Polish hit, Miłość ci wszystko wybaczy" [Love Forgives All] remains one of the most popular Polish songs of the past 50 years and was used in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List.

The Trio:

Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz, double bass

Kuba Stankiewicz, piano

Tina Raymond, percussion

This concert is made possible by the generous support of the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles.

For more information about the concert, click here.