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 Alyosha Dmitrievich

Famous Gipsy singer, dancer and acrobat


A famous Gypsy musician, dancer and acrobat, Alyosha Dmitrievich became a singer at the age of 50. An emigrant from Russia, he gained international popularity with his Gipsy-style romance songs set to lyrics by Russian poets.

Aleksei (Alyosha) Ivanovich Dmitrievich was born into the family of Gipsy musicians on March, 23rd in 1913. Various sources specify several possible birthplaces of Alyosha: St. Petersburg, a Gipsy camp in Samara, and the Far East. His father gathered a Gipsy ensemble of singers and dancers and organized tours across all Russia. Alyosha had three elder brothers - Ivan, Nikolay and Dmitry - and two sisters – Valya and Marusya. Each kid had his own role as a singer, dancer or musician in the ensemble; as for Alyosha he was supposed to be a dancer and a guitarist.

In the beginning of Civil War, in 1919 the Dimitrieviches left for Vladivostok and then immigrated to Harbin in China. The gypsy family performed in Japan, the Philippines, India, Greece, and Morocco. In 1929 they moved to France - at first to Marseilles, and then to Paris. Dimitrievich Sr. opened there a Russian restaurant called Cabaret Goldfish. In those years Alyosha performed a lot. He was an outstanding dancer and acrobat and was repeatedly invited to circus companies. His star turn was a double flying somersault. In Russian Paris Alyosha also grew closer to Russian culture.

In 1940 the family migrated again. Now they headed for the South America. The Dimitrievich Ensemble performed in theatres of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. Five years later Alyosha 

separated from his family, repeatedly changed his professions, and traveled a lot. One of his occupations was dancing in the well-known cabaret Tabaris in Buenos Aires.

In 1960 his father, his sister Marusya, and soon his brother Ivan passed away. His sister Valya staying in Paris was very lonely and asked her brother Alyosha to come and join her. He arrived in Paris in 1961 and soon started singing. At that time he was about fifty. Becoming a singer at this age was quite a rare chance. But Alyosha explained it as simply as “Singing is a gift”. The gift woke up rather late in him, but developed swiftly and brightly.

In 1962 by means of the well-known writer Kessel there appeared the record Last Voices of Gypsies. These were songs sung by Valya Dmitrievich and Volodya Polyakov. Alyosha was accompanying them on guitar. The next record was released in 1968. It featured Alyosha Dimitrievich singing together with his friend Yul Brynner – a known American actor of Russian origin. The third record appeared two years later: it was a record of Valya and Alyosha Dimitrievich. In 1975 at the initiative of the famous artist and sculptor Mihail Chemiakin the “personal” record of Alyosha Dmitrievich singing solo was released.

During those years Alyosha became widely known in France. His song repertoire was growing every year. Those were romance songs set to verses of Apukhin and Yesenin, golden oldies of the 1920s, and songs about the emigrant lot. Using Gipsy harmony he sang Russian poets’ romances, producing an extraordinary effect. He sang in Russian restaurants Tsarevitch and Rasputin, but true Alyosha could be seen at private concerts only.

In March, 1984 Alyosha made a tour around the United States. He performed in 12 cities, mostly for Russian public. The success was overwhelming.

Alyosha Dmitrievich died on January, 21st, 1986. The burial service was read in St. Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral on 24 January. The singer was buried at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery. Alyosha’s friends - Parisian musicians – performed his songs at the cemetery on that day.

Tags: Alyosha Dmitrievich Russian music Russian singers   

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