Photos with Jan Kiepura
BiographySosnowiec, Poland, Russian Empire [now Sosnowiec, Slaskie, Poland]
Jan Kiepura, the son of a baker, was born in 1902 in the gloomy mining town of Sosnowia, now in Poland, but situated in Russia at that time. He left his native town, that - although dirty and dark - would always remain dear to his heart, for Warsaw, where he started studying law. At the same time he took singing lessons with Waclaw Brzesinsky and Tadeusz Leliwa. He soon realized that singing was his real vocation and was lucky to benefit from the support of his parents, who understood how talented he was in this field. Read more... hired for the first time, as a replacement in the choir of the Warsaw Opera, but he sang so loud that his voice covered all the other ones, which resulted in his being fired. However, three months later, he found himself on the same stage, but in the right place this time, as the lead singer of Gounod's "Faust". This outstanding performance marked the beginning of a rapid rise: from then on, Jan Kiepura was wanted everywhere in the world. In addition,it was not long before the cinema - now talking - required his beautiful voice and his good looks. As of the early thirties he starred in a series of filmed operettas. It was on the set of "Mein Herz ruft nach dir" that he met the woman of his life, Hungarian-born Marta Eggerth, another star singer, with whom he lived until his death in 1966 and who gave him two sons. In March '38, the couple fled Austria and took refuge in the South of France. The following year, he joined the French Polish Legion and shortly after the Phoney War, he was assigned the mission to defend the cause of invaded Poland in the States. He found Marta there and after the end of the War they teamed together on Broadway where they co-starred in "The Merry Widow" and "La Polonaise". In 1953, Jan and Marta settled down in the USA for good and Jan acquired American citizenship shortly afterwards. But his career quickly declined and, at the age of 64, he died of a heart attack in his New York State home. Marta Eggerth survives him to this day.