Juan Spivak

April 28, 1883 Philadelphia – March 15, 1946 New York

Spivak (also spelled Spiwak or Spiwack) was long thought to have been born in Odessa, and that's what also Kutsch & Riemens wrote in their famous book that is quoted below:

From 1907 to 1909, Spivak was singing at the Wiener Volksoper. Here he had his first successes and sang often with Maria Jeritza.

In 1909/10, Spivak sang at the Wiener Staatsoper: Barbier von Bagdad (2. Muezzin, 10 times from October 4, 1909 to April 16, 1910; Nureddin on November 4, 1909), Carmen (José on January 6, 1909).

His career evolved as follows:
1910-11 Opernhaus in Düsseldorf
1911-12 Theater in Olmütz (Olomouc)
1912-15 Stadttheater in Bremen
1915-22 Stadttheater in Nürnberg (world premiere of Ein Fest auf Haderslev by Robert Heger in 1919), where he also directed operas
1923-25 Stadttheater von Danzig, as singer und director
1927-28 Komische Oper Berlin, as singer und director

He made guest appearances at the Hoftheater in Stuttgart (1909), and at the Hoftheater in Wiesbaden (1911).

After retiring, he lived in Berlin, where he taught singing.

He left Germany in 1933 due to the political climate and emigrated to the USA. In New York, he taught singing.

But in reality, Spivak was born in Philadelphia into a family of Russian immigrants:

application to regain US citizenship - SPIVAK early 1930's

  • From: helenebergman@xxxxxxxxxxxx (Helene Bergman)
  • Date: 28 Nov 2010 07:29:56 -0800

Having recently connected to a great-niece of my grandfather's first 
cousin, I find that he was born in Philadelphia in 1883. His parents 
(or maybe only father after mother's death) returned to Odessa and he 
was raised by his grandparents, parents of my ggm. To ensure his 
safety, they destroyed his US papers, and obtained Russian papers for 
him. Here is her account: 
According to Anki JENSEN SPIVAK, her husband, Juan SPIVAK, was born in 
Philadelphia. He was born of Russian immigrants, but the family moved 
back to Russia when he was only two years old. Because a pogrom had 
been instituted against Jews in Russia at the time, only children born 
in Russia would  be allowed to stay, so the family decided to burn the 
boy's American paperwork. For some reason Juan was brought up by his 
grandparents in Odessa. That is why I don't know their names. He came 
to Berlin at a very young age to take voice lessons. From there he went 
to Vienna and had great success at the Wiener Staatsoper at the age of 
only 21. 
In 1926 Anki came from Stettin to Berlin and married Juan SPIVAK. I 
don't know exactly when. Juan was singing 'Fuerst Igor' and 'Boris 
Godunov'at the Berlin Staatsoper, while Anki sang 'Michaela' in Carmen 
at 'Theater des Westens' and had a Strauss recital. Juan practiced 
with her to expand her repertoire for the Berlin Staatsoper, where she 
was later engaged. In 1929-30 the trouble started for the Jews and it 
became hard to maintain employment. Juan now went on a tour with Jushny 
and his 'Blaue Vogel' troup to Sweden, while Anki went to Paris and 
London and was broadcast on the radio in both countries. When 'Der Blaue 
Vogel' planned a trip to the US Anki was invited to be member of the group, 
as well.  
When they returned to Berlin their friends advised them to go back to the 
U.S. and for Juan to get his American papers in order. He had to contact
family members in Paris, England, Italy and Russia and have all his 
aunts sign papers to swear that it was true that he was born in 
Philadelphia, USA and that his papers had been burnt in Russia. He 
immigrated to the U.S. in 1933, but Anki had to wait one and a half 
long years before she was able to enter the country, let alone get a 
working permit, since it took this long for the paperwork to be in order.

I have written about this SPIVAK family before, and this seems like a
solid lead. Does anyone know from where I could obtain whatever papers 
Juan filed with the US government? Those petitions would help establish 
the name of the ancestors who moved to these other cities (I have a photo 
of the one who went to London).

Thanks in advance for any leads...

Lanie Bergman
Bronx NY
Reference: Der Keiler, website for genealogical research
Juan Spivak singsFaust: O gib junges Blut, with Robert Leonhardt

Juan Spivak singsFaust: Auf eilet! Auf eilet!, with Brunnhilde Ellis and Carl Nebe

Juan Spivak singsCarmen: Ich seh' die Mutter dort, with Gertrud Runge

Juan Spivak singsLohengrin: Höchstes Vertrauen

Juan Spivak singsDie Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond

Juan Spivak singsIl trovatore: Einsam steh' ich

Juan Spivak singsIl trovatore: Wilde Eifersucht im Herzen, with Juan Luria and Aline Sanden
In RA format

Juan Spivak singsIl trovatore: Hab Erbarmen, o Herr, with Aline Sanden

Picture of Juan Spivak's signature

Odeon Wien/Berlin
          Pagliacci: Hüll' dich in Tand nur              X 25133
          Pagliacci: Scherzet immer, doch eines schont   X 25132
xB 3969?  Pagliacci: Nein, bin Bajazzo nicht bloß!       X 25534    X 99???
xxB 3951  Faust: Gegrüßt sei mir, o heil'ge Stätte       XX 76023   AA 56989
xB 3922   Faust: O gib junges Blut with  Emil Stammer    X 51352    X 99016
          Tosca: Und es blitzten die Sterne              X 64992    X 25056
          Tosca: Wie sich die Bilder gleichen            X 64997    X 25057 
xB 3967   Manon Lescaut: Ha, wagt's, sie zu berühren     X 99041    X 25228
xB 3966   Manon Lescaut: Wo lebte wohl ein Wesen         X 99054    X 25229
xB 3925   Martha: Wie das schnattert, wie das plappert   X 99006    X 51354
          with Juan Luria
xB 3902   Il trovatore: Rings tiefes Schweigen!          X 99031    X 51351	
          with Juan Luria
xB 3970   Guillaume Tell: O Mathilde                     X 99060    X 51353
          with Juan Luria
xB 3901   Carmen: Eine Linie tiefer                      X 99199    X 51355
          with Juan Luria
          Towau l'fonecho (Louis Lewandowski)            X 35819          
          Synagoge Rykestraße Berlin, Alexander Weinbaum 

38659     Il trovatore: Ach, bezähm' doch deine Wut     38659
          with Jeritza & Melms
38670     Lohengrin: Das süße Lied verhallt             38670
          w. Jeritza
38682     Rigoletto: Freundlich blick' ich              38682
38683     Manon Lescaut: Du, du Geliebter               38683
          w. Jeritza

Picture of Juan Spivak's label
Homokord Lohengrin: Atmest du nicht mit mir Eden 1097 279A Lohengrin: Höchstes Vertrauen 1002, Eden 1097, Telra 800a 648A Faust: Finale 1006 with Brunnhilde Ellis, Carl Nebe Il trovatore: Deserto sulla terra 1056 Carmen: Il fior che avevi a me tu dato 1060 Il trovatore: Di geloso amor 1069 with Juan Luria & Aline Sanden in German Die Walküre: Liebeslied 1083 Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Preislied 1099 Tosca: E lucevan le stelle 1106 1098A Il trovatore: Miserere with Aline Sanden 1176 Il trovatore: Duo with Gertrud Runge 1502 Aida: Misero appien with Margarete Leux 1539 Carmen: Ich seh' die Mutter dort 1540, B771 with Gertrud Runge 2828A Faust: O gib junges Blut 1546 with Robert Leonhardt Martha: Duo with Robert Leonhardt? 1547 Cavalleria rusticana: Duo with Margarete Leux 1548 Cavalleria rusticana: Brindisi 1788
Picture of Juan Spivak's label
I wish to thank Robert Schlesinger for the Spivak citizenship research.
Many thanks to Anton Bieber for five recordings plus label scans (2x Faust, Carmen, Miserere, Lohengrin), and for additions to the discography.

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