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Oscar Strok. Latvia.

One of the most famous Jews in Latvia, Oscar Strok, is rightly called the “King of Tango.”
Oscar Strok was born on January 6, 1893 in Daugavpils, in the city of Dinamburg, which later became Dvinsk. His father was a famous musician at that time and led one of the klezmer ensembles that performed traditional Jewish music.
Oscar was the eighth and youngest child in the family, but also the most talented: the boy’s musical abilities showed up quite early. Oscar entered the conservatory in St. Petersburg. During his studies, he accompanied at concerts and in cinema.
In 1922 Oscar Strok returned to Latvia and settled in Riga. At home, he wanted to engage in private enterprise, but commercial affairs did not go well. But it was at this time that Strok wrote many musical works and gained popularity as a composer and musician. Musicologist Janis Kundiš notes that the recording industry, which actively developed in the 30s of the twentieth century, played a significant role in the growth of Strok’s popularity. His songs became hits, the famous tangos of Strok were performed by Pyotr Leshchenko and Leonid Sokolsky. At the same time, Srok met Fyodor Chaliapin, who highly valued his songs and knew many of them.
During World War II, Strok emigrated to Kazakhstan. Then he returned to Riga and was disappointed with the changes that Soviet power brought. According to the decision of the Communist Party, cosmopolitanism and modernism in music were criticized. Strok's work, as the author of bourgeois tango hits, was prohibited. This revealed Stalin's hidden anti-Jewish policy.
But Strok's popularity did not diminish in informal cultural circles. His records from the 1930s were copied, his music was played in restaurants and cultural centers. But the official culture “forgot” Strok for almost 30 years.
Strok almost did not participate in the informal life of Riga, but actively toured in other republics of the Soviet Union.
Oscar Strok died on June 22, 1975 and was buried in Riga, at the New Jewish Cemetery.
Strok's musical heritage includes more than 350 compositions, including 44 tangos.
In the 21st century, the name Strok regained prominence. Raymond Pauls wrote the song “The King Composes Tango” about him. A play was staged at the Riga Russian Theater, director Ilona Bruvere made a documentary. As well as a memorial plaque was installed on the house in Riga in which the composer lived for 30 years.