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Ио́сиф Давы́дович Кобзо́н (род. 11 сентября 1937, Часов Яр, Донецкая область, УССР) — советский и российский эстрадный певец, баритон; Депутат Государственной Думы Федерального Собрания России от партии «Единая Россия»; член правления Федерации еврейских общин России; член президиума общероссийской общественной организации «Лига здоровья нации».
Iosif (Joseph) Davydovich Kobzon (Russian: Иосиф Давыдович Кобзон; born September 11, 1937) is an iconic Soviet crooner, who has been acclaimed as «the official voice of the Soviet Union» and regarded by many as a «living legend».
Biography and Stage Career
Kobzon was born to Jewish parents in the mining town of Chasiv Yar, Ukraine.As a boy he demonstrated a talent for singing, winning numerous regional singing contests. He reached the national finals on two separate occasions, appearing in concerts dedicated to Joseph Stalin — a significant honour at the time.Despite his talent for singing, Kobzon went on to technical school to study geology and mining, as this was considered a lucrative vocation in the Soviet Union following the Second World War. However, in 1956, following his contact with professional music instructors in the Soviet Army, he decided that music would be his preferred vocation.In 1958 Kobzon officially started his singing career in Moscow, and enrolled to study at the Gnessin Institute. In the next few years he made valuable contacts in Moscow’s entertainment world, and was eventually given a chance by composer Arkady Ostrovski to perform some of his music.Initially, he performed in a duet with the tenor Viktor Kokhno, but was eventually offered a solo repertoire by many of the outstanding composers of the time such as Mark Fradkin, Alexander Dolukhanian and Yan Frenkel.In 1962, he recorded his first LP which included songs written by Aleksandra Pakhmutova.In 1964 he triumphed at the International Song Contest in Sopot, Poland, (watch video)  and in the following year he took part in the «Friendship» contest held across six nations, winning first prize in Warsaw, Berlin and Budapest.His popularity rose quickly, and demand for his singing saw him frequently performing two to three concerts a day.His most popular hit song at the time was titled «A U Nas Vo Dvore».During Leonid Brezhnev’s time in office (1964–82), there was hardly an official concert where Kobzon didn’t take part, and in 1980 he was awarded the honour of People’s Artist of the USSR.In 1983, Kobzon was expelled from the Communist Party and reprimanded for performing Jewish songs on stage in support of Israel (a country which had no diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union).However, the following year, (1984) his reputation as the ‘official voice of the Soviet Union’ was restored, as he was honored with the USSR State Prize.His best known song is «Instants» from the legendary Soviet TV series «Seventeen Instants of Spring» (1973). (watch video of «Instants» performed in concert)Joseph Kobzon appeared with solo concerts in most cities of the former USSR. He was also bestowed the rare honour of performing international concerts tours as a representative of USSR in United States, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Argentina, Israel, Republic of the Congo, Zaire, Angola, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Greece, and Finland.Throughout his career, he has shared the stage with many Western superstars, including the likes of Liza Minnelli and Julio Iglesias.In 1986, he was the first celebrity to visit and perform in the town of Chernobyl to cheer the nuclear reactor rescuers. Since then, Kobzon has performed on many occasions in disaster areas, and military hot-spots such as Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war, and Chechnya.
Although, Joseph Kobzon officially ended his international touring career in 1997, he continues to appear in regular concerts before audiences around the world, and is frequently seen on Russian television to date.