Behind every great love song is an unforgettable woman
In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro wrote a love song called “Tu Solamente Tu.”
Its lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy. The song, first recorded by Vittorio de Sica in 1939, catapulted to the top of the Hit Parade and earned the composer the moniker the “Italian Cole Porter.” The German version, “Du Immer Wieder Du,” would be performed by Zarah Leander, the foremost film star of the German Reich, and its English counterpart, “You, Fascinating You,” by the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.
Twenty-two years would pass before the maestro and his ballerina again met face-to-face.
You, Fascinating You begins as a backstage romance and ends as an epic triumph of the human spirit.
Quite true, quite true indeed.
At it's most basic form, it's a story of just what happens when love takes a hold of us, body and soul...but, if you'll grant it an extended glance and you'll see the multiple layers that go into making one incredible life journey you can't turn away from. Starting out as a ballerina in the making, Margit leaves her hometown, nay home country in pursuit of her dream...to dance with both her heart and soul and eventually land on the grand stages thus far only known to her in thought and word. Her journey is filled with sacrifice, disappointment, deception and the beginning, middle, and end of some of the darkest days our world has known...and still, through it all, she holds on to her sense of self and does not shut out her fellow man, finding the beauty in life and even love. How? It's not an easy road to read let alone travel and the hardships she faces are many, but she is a strong one, this ballerina with the heart of a warrior. I wouldn't be surprised if in life, the flowers dipped their heads at her approach to acknowledge her grace and beauty but also her fierceness.
I love the way the story was written as a whole. We follow from her childhood, through her young ambitious days, her mid-life tragedies and triumphs, straight into her final days; the change of narrative voice for the last chapter of two brings things full circle to an inevitable and yet tragically beautiful end. Perhaps beautiful is not the best word here but I can think of no other. A life well lived despite the obstacles in ones way, the seemingly insurmountable adversity met time and time again, and a love that is only half returned though supposedly echoed in every bone of their being...my dear readers, Margit's dance through life was one for not just herself but for all who've ever lived, loved, been lost and survived in some capacity to share it with another. It's beauty in form and format and a journey I won't soon forget.
Until next time...happy reading!