Juan Spivak

28 April 1883 Philadelphia – 15 March 1946 New York

Spivak (also spelled Spiwak or Spiwack) was long thought to have been born in Slovenia, since that's what 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 (Zweiter Muezzin, 10 times from 4 October 1909 to 16 April 1910; Nureddin on 4 November 1909), Carmen (José on 6 January 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

Favorite, Berlin, September 1905
420-o	  Azra (Rubinstein)				 		1-75006
421-o	  Evgenij Onegin: Kuda, kuda vy udalilis	 		1-75001
422-o	  Pikovaja dama: Prosti, nebesnoe sozdanye	 		1-75002
439-o	  Aida: Milaja Aida				 		1-75003
440-o	  Demon: Obernuvshis sokolom			 		1-75004
441-o	  Rigoletto: Questa o quella 			 		1-75005

Picture of Juan Spivak's label
Homocord, Berlin, 23 March 1907 Il trovatore: Einsam steh' ich 1001, B838 Il trovatore: Einsam steh' ich 1056, B779 Pagliacci: Hüll dich in Tand nur 1054, B785, Eden 1086 Homocord, Berlin, 27 March 1907 Lohengrin: Nun sei bedankt 1057, B786, Sigurd P518a Il trovatore: Lodern zum Himmel 1058, B780 Pagliacci: Ich wünscht', ach, dass im Fieber 1059, B780 Carmen: Hier an dem Herzen 1060, B779, Eden 1088 Rigoletto: Freundlich blick' ich 1061 Homocord, Berlin, 9 April 1907 Lohengrin: O Elsa 1053, B786 Rigoletto: O wie so trügerisch 1055, B775 Lohengrin: In fernem Land 1065, B776, Eden 1096 Die Walküre: Winterstürme 1083, B784, Sigurd P518b Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Preislied 1099, B784 Cavalleria rusticana: O Lola, rosengleich 1100, B785 Der Asra (Rubinstein) 1102 Homocord, Berlin, 11 April 1907 Il trovatore: In uns're Heimat 1502, Telra 810a with Gertrud Runge Carmen: Ich seh' die Mutter dort 1540, B771, Eden 1088 with Gertrud Runge Traviata: So hold, so reizend 1542, B771, Novitas 1208 with Gertrud Runge Odeon, Berlin, May 1907 xB 28.. Towau l'fonecho (Louis Lewandowski) X 23842, X 35819, O-5156 Homocord, Berlin, 17 May 1907 Aida: O wäre ich erkoren 1004a, B778 Aida: Holde Aida 1004b, B778 648A Faust: Auf eilet! Auf eilet! 1006, B772, Eden 1092 with Brunnhilde Ellis & Carl Nebe Sieh, nun fliehet des Winters Macht (= Au printemps) (Gounod) 1112, B775 Homocord, Berlin, 29 May 1907 279A Lohengrin: Höchstes Vertrauen 1002, B777, Eden 1097, Telra 800a Homocord, Berlin, 15 July 1907 Faust: Gegrüßt sei mir 1068, Eden 1091 Homocord, Berlin, 22 July 1907 La Juive: Recha, als Gott dich einst 1027, Eden 1109 Homocord, Berlin, 23 July 1907 Lohengrin: Atmest du nicht mit mir 1052, B777, Eden 1097, Telra 800b Homocord, Berlin, 26 July 1907 2828A Faust: O gib junges Blut 1546, B772 with Robert Leonhardt Martha: Ja, seit früher Kindheit Tagen 1547, B770 with Robert Leonhardt Homocord, Berlin, 5 August 1907 Tosca: Und es blitzten die Sterne 1106, B781, Eden 1109
Picture of Juan Spivak's label
Homocord, Berlin, 19 August 1907 Cavalleria rusticana: Nein, nein, Turiddu 1548 with Margaretha Leux Homocord, Berlin, 21 August 1907 Cavalleria rusticana: No, no, Turiddu 4107 with Vera Goldberg Homocord, Berlin, 27 August 1907 Bruder Straubinger: Küssen ist keine Sünd' 1787, Telra 806b Cavalleria rusticana: Schäumt der süße Wein im Becher 1788, B765 Homocord, Berlin, 31 August 1907 Aida: Schon sind die Priester all vereint 1539, Eden 1117 with Margaretha Leux Aida: Già i sacerdoti adunansi 4105 with Elena F. Karri Pathé, Wien, March 1908? 38659 Il trovatore: Wilde Eifersucht im Herzen 38659 with Maria Jeritza & Hans Melms 38667 Pagliacci: Hüll dich in Tand nur 38667 38668 Tosca: Und es blitzten die Sterne 38668 38669 Manon Lescaut: Manon, o schändlich 38669 38670 Lohengrin: Das süße Lied verhallt 38670 with Maria Jeritza 38679 Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond 38679 38680 Aida: Holde Aida 38680 38681 Der Freischütz: Durch die Wälder 38681 38682 Rigoletto: Freundlich blick' ich 38682 38683 Manon Lescaut: Du, du Geliebter 38683, IRCC L-7015 with Maria Jeritza Odeon, Berlin, May 1908 xB 3901 Carmen: Eine Linie tiefer X 99199, X 51355 with Juan Luria xB 3902 Il trovatore: Rings tiefes Schweigen! X 99031, X 51351 with Juan Luria xB 3903 Tosca: Wie sich die Bilder gleichen X 64997, X 25057 xB 3904 Tosca: Und es blitzten die Sterne X 64992, X 25056 xB 3922 Faust: O gib junges Blut X 51352, X 99016 with Emil Stammer xB 3924 Il trovatore: Wilde Eifersucht im Herzen X 51350, X 99017 with Juan Luria & Aline Sanden xB 3925 Martha: Wie das schnattert, wie das plappert X 99006, X 51354 with Juan Luria Homocord, Berlin, 25 May 1908 Pagliacci: Scherzet immer 1062, B767, Eden 1086 Jocelyn: Am stillen Zufluchtsort 1063, B783 Odeon, Berlin, June 1908 xxB 3938 Faust: Gegrüßt sei mir, o heil'ge Stätte unpublished xxB 3951 Faust: Gegrüßt sei mir, o heil'ge Stätte XX 76023, AA 56989 xB 3952 Pagliacci: Scherzet immer, doch eines schont X 25132, X 99085 xB 3953 Pagliacci: Hüll' dich in Tand nur X 25133, X 99075 xB 3966 Manon Lescaut: Wo lebte wohl ein Wesen X 99054, X 25229 xB 3967 Manon Lescaut: Ha, wagt's, sie zu berühren X 99041, X 25228 xB 3969 Pagliacci: Nein, bin Bajazzo nicht bloß X 25534 xB 3970 Guillaume Tell: O Mathilde X 99060, X 51353 with Juan Luria Homocord, Berlin, 30 June 1908 Il trovatore: Wilde Eifersucht im Herzen 1069, B767, Eden 1105 with Juan Luria & Aline Sanden Carmen: Eine Linie tiefer 1070, B764, Eden 1117 with Juan Luria Les cloches de Corneville: Fahr hin, Matrose 1071, B782 Les cloches de Corneville: Die Reise um die ganze Erde 1072, B782 Africaine: Land so wunderbar 1073, B781, B783 Il trovatore: Einsam steh' ich 1074, B764, Telra 809a with Juan Luria 1098A Il trovatore: Hab Erbarmen, o Herr 1176, B734 with Aline Sanden Gramophone, Wien, 6 June 1911 12505L Fliederlied (Zerkovitz) 242120, 12164 12506L Das Lied der Mutter (Zerkovitz) unpublished 12506½L Das Lied der Mutter (Zerkovitz) 242121, 12164
Many thanks to Anton Bieber for five recordings plus label scans (2x Faust, Carmen, Miserere, Lohengrin).
Discography source: Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien

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