Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gloomy Sunday and Suicide

Gloomy Sunday is a song I tend to listen to when I get depressed.

Interestingly enough, Gloomy Sunday (Szomorú Vasárnap) was originally composed by a Hungarian Pianist and composer named Rezső Seress.

It became banned in Hungary and Europe due to the fact it was found to be too depressing. Suicides were blamed on this song. It made its way to the United States in 1936 where it became known as the "Hungarian Suicide Song". Despite its popularity, it became banned in some places in the United States for the same reason. Suicides were blamed on Gloomy Sunday.

Rezső Seress himself eventually committed suicide. Gloomy Sunday was blamed for the cause. Here is an exerpt from a newspaper article:

Budapest, January 13. Rezso Seres, whose dirge-like song hit, "Gloomy Sunday" was blamed for touching off a wave of suicides during the nineteen-thirties, has ended his own life as a suicide it was learned today.
Authorities disclosed today that Mr. Seres jumped from a window of his small apartment here last Sunday, shortly after his 69th birthday. The decade of the nineteen-thirties was marked by severe economic depression and the political upheaval that was to lead to World War II. The melancholy song written by Mr. Seres, with words by his friend, Ladislas Javor, a poet, declares at its climax, "My heart and I have decided to end it all." It was blamed for a sharp increase in suicides, and Hungarian officials finally prohibited it. In America, where Paul Robeson introduced an English version, some radio stations and nightclubs forbade its performance. Mr. Seres complained that the success of "Gloomy Sunday" actually increased his unhappiness, because he knew he would never be able to write a second hit.

- New York Times, 1968

A translation of the Hungarian Lyrics:
This is Zoé Orosz's translation of the original Hungarian:


On a sad Sunday with a hundred white flowers,
I was waiting for you my dearest with a prayer.
A Sunday morning, chasing after my dreams,
The carriage of my sorrow returned to me without you.
It is since then that my Sundays have been forever sad ...

Sad Sunday

This last Sunday, my darling please come to me
There'll be a priest, a coffin, a catafalque and a winding-sheet.
There'll be flowers for you, flowers and a coffin,
Under the blossoming trees it will be my last journey.
My eyes will be open, so that I could see you for a last time,
Don't be afraid of my eyes, I'll be blessing you in death ...

The last Sunday.

Billie Holiday added a dream component to the song which served to lessen the depressing aspect of the song. The version that I have and listen to is by Sarah Brightman.

Sarah Brightman:

Sunday is gloomy
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach
Of sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you
Gloomy Sunday

Sunday is gloomy
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I have decided
To end it all
Soon there'll be flowers and prayers
That are said I know
But let them not weep
Let them know
That I'm glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I'm caressing you
With the last breath of my soul
I'll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart dear
Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is telling you
How much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday
Gloomy Sunday

Interestingly enough, Gloomy Sunday was made into an internationally acclaimed German-Hungarian Movie. It is set in lovely Budapest. The plot centers around a Hungarian woman named Ilona. She is in love with two men, but she cannot choose between the two. The situation becomes more complicated when a German SS officer falls in love with her and wants her hand in marriage. Below is a video of clips from the movie with Heather Nova singing:

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