Call Us


Dave Apollon: When a Gypsy Makes His Violin Cry

Dave Apollon was one of the greatest mandolinists of the 20th Century. He was a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine who was a master of classical, Hungarian, Romanian, Klezmer, Latin, and jazz styles.

Born in Kiev, Dave Apollon was known during his time as the “world’s greatest mandolin virtuoso.” He began playing the mandolin at a young age and apparently taught himself. When he was 13 he met a renowned italian mandolinist who was touring Russia, and Dave managed to persuade the man to help him. He taught Dave how to hold the pick and a few other “tricks” that would later serve him well. In 1919, Dave Apollon decided to escape the hardships of the Russian Revolution and made his way to America. Dave performed in vaudeville, and in 1926 he met a group of filipino string players who had just lost their job in another show. He immediately hired them to be his “orchestra” and began working up the routines and musical numbers that would be part of his show. In 1930, Dave embarked on a motion picture career, filming the first of six musical shorts. In 1937, he was featured in Universal’s “Merry Go ‘Round of 1938”, his only full-length American film. He was also a popular night club performer throughout the ’40s and ’50s. Dave Apollon was the first “new world” mandolinist. He was the first to technically master the instrument and at the same time adapt this technique to an extremely wide variety of music.

From the collection of Scot Wise.

For more Dave Apollon check out his CD The Man with Mandolin.

The video archive is dedicated to Mary Honcoop. She generously shared her large collection of Gypsy videos with nearly anyone who asked. The video archive aims to continue her generosity now that she is gone.

The Video Archive is devoted surviving video of Django Reinhardt and other masters of the Gypsy jazz genre. If you enjoy these videos consider making a donation.

To view this video you need Real Player software. Download for free here: Real Player

Kryptronic Internet Software Solutions