Utesov, Leonid

Utesov, Leonid Osipovich


Born Mar. 9 (21), 1895, in Odessa. Soviet estrada (variety stage) performer, singer, and director. People’s Artist of the USSR (1965).

Beginning in 1911, Utesov worked in various theaters of miniatures and appeared on the variety stage as well, mainly as a reciter. Later he performed in such theaters as the Moscow Terevsat (Theater of Revolutionary Satire) and the Svobodnyi Theater. Since 1929 he has led a variety orchestra that he organized himself (originally named Tea-dzhaz, now the State Variety Orchestra of the RSFSR).

Known for his exceptionally mellow voice, Utesov imbues his songs with lyricism, charm, and civic spirit. He helped popularize Soviet songs and was among the first to perform the works of I. O. Dunaevskii, M. I. Blanter, K. L. Listov, V. P. Solov’ev-Sedoi, L. K. Knipper, M. E. Tabachnikov, and T. N. Khrennikov. He introduced into the variety repertoire old Russian songs, soldiers’ songs, and sailors’ ditties, such as “The Sea Stretched Wide.” Utesov has also appeared in films, including Jolly Fellows (1934).

Utesov has been awarded the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and various medals.


Zapiski aktera. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
S pesnei po zhizni. [Moscow] 1961.
Spasibo, serdtse! Moscow, 1976.