Coretti Arle Titz

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Coretti Genrichovna Arle-Titz
Born Corette Elisabeth Hardy
(1883-12-05)5 December 1883
Churchville, New York, U.S.
Died 15 December 1951(1951-12-15) (aged 68)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Nationality American, Russian
Occupation Dancer, singer, actress
Years active 1902–51
  • ? Utin (m. 1908–1917)
  • Boris Borisovich Titz (m. 1920)
Musical career
Instruments Vocals
Labels Gramplasttrest Record Trust

Coretti Genrichovna Arle-Titz (December 5, 1883 – December 15, 1951), also known as Corette Alefred, was an American-born jazz, spiritual, and pop music singer (lyrical and dramatic soprano), dancer and actress who was well known in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

Early life

Corette Elisabeth Hardy was born December 5, 1883 to Carrie Carter and Thomas J. Hardy in Churchville, New York where her mother was possibly employed as a chamber maid for a local hotel. Around 1888, the family relocated to Manhattan for Corette had enrolled in school on 99th & West End Avenue. The Hardy's produced a total of 13 children, four of which survived into adulthood. After finishing her education from the 85th Street High School in 1899, Corette began working as a copyist as well as singing for the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, which her family frequently attended.

In later life she often spun the story to Soviet reporters, that she was born somewhere in Mexico around 1894 to a family of circus performers.


Early career (1902–1912)

During the spring of 1902, German Impresario, Paula Kohn-Wöllner, approached Corette (and Fannie Smith) to join her Negro revue "Louisiana Amazon Guards", as two of the girls had departed after the first year of touring. Corette (now using the last name Alefred) arrived in Leipzig, Germany early May. She rehearsed in time to join the show in Switzerland the following month. The revue reorganized late-1902, after firing Mrs Kohn-Wollner and relocated to Berlin and continuing to perform until early 1904, when Corette and Emma Harris paired up as the Koretty Kreol duo and traveled to Russia.

Arriving in Saint Petersburg, February 1904, they appeared at the Aquarium Gardens. The following month, they were joined by Fannie Smith and traveled to Helsinki's Hotel Fennia. Afterwards, they appeared frequently in Moscow at the Aumont Theatre, run by the manipulative French director Charles Aumont. That winter, they returned to St. Petersburg to join Georgette Harvey & her Creole Belles Quartet. On January 22, the women witnessed the Bloody Sunday (1905) protest outside the Tsar's palace and riots across the city. Corette, Fannie and Emma packed up and returned to the Aumont Theater as the "Harris trio" in Moscow.[1] That summer, Corette and Fannie (now as a duo) performed successfully across Warsaw.

On June 6, 1907, the 1906 Revolution was finally extinguished with brutal force. Although order was established, the issues that sparked the violence remained and fueled the peasants' desire for revenge. A tense atmosphere gripped the country. There was the constant presence of the strongly emerging left-wing movement which was bent on purging the decadence of Tsarist Russia. This was, of course, the infant Bolshevik movement, but despite this business was booming again. Theaters and cabarets reopened, foreigners returned and entertainers resumed their tours through the major cities.

During the fall of 1907, Coretté was back in Russia working as a solo artist in Moscow, appearing at the popular Yar Restaurant. Located on the northwestern edge of Moscow, the Yar Restaurant, opened in the 19th Century, was among Moscow’s many celebrated restaurants and stood out because of its age. The Yar was considered by many connoisseurs to be the finest in Russia and of the best in all of Europe. Every night she showcased their popular number, an exotic Algerian belly dance which she had learned in the mysterious Oriental Russian city. She was invited to all of the smart cafes, clubs, dances, and parties across the city and of course she went to them, engaging in a hectic chase after sensation and diversion. Gossip bubbled about the city about her onstage image as the personification of unbridled sexuality, just as her counterparts, Mata Hari, Pearl Hobson, Ollie Burgoyne and even her old friend Emma Harris who traversed about Russia as the dancer Galima Oriedo. She had finally found a place where she could fit in, and despite offers asking her to appear in America, Coretté was finally a star in Russia and had no intention of going back.

Soon she was introduced to Sergey Yakovlevich Utin, a wealthy Russian senator with aspirations for a place on the Imperial council and member of the intelligentsia. Originally successful Jewish merchants in St. Petersburg, after converting to the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 1850s, the Utin family became an extremely wealthy bunch of bankers, business tycoons (Baku Oil Company), lawyers and politicians that owned (or built) an abundance of property in the Russian capital. At the elaborate dinners organized on the numerous family homes and estates, members of government, businessmen, writers and scientists were frequent guests. Everyone in the family was exceptionally educated, ambitious and surprisingly radical in their thinking. The family had taken part in the 1861 student movement and the Decembrist Revolution. Despite the Russia's national anti-Semitic attitudes, the family never forgot their Jewish heritage and up kept positive relations with Jews. Despite their modern, liberal thinking, the they were not yet ready to make their own beds or empty their own chamber pots and employed numerous servants.

After five months of a brief courtship, the couple travelled together to marry in his hometown of St. Petersburg sometime in 1908. The newlyweds often resided on one of the numerous country dachas owned by the Utin family in the midst of the rich agricultural areas, where Coretté was the only Negro. However, they primarily resided in a smart apartment in the city, where she attempted to play at domesticity, preparing meals for her husband while the servants tidied the house. Not long after the wedding, she discovered a different side of Russia. In the households of Russian high society, there was an invisible glass barrier. Distinguishing the aristocracy from the workers was terribly important, but not always easy. The nobles walked on one side of the street, and the servants and peasants on the other. Although everyone attended the same churches, there was a separate entrance for the noblemen and their families, which led to a raised enclosure reserved for them. The Utin household was full of order, structure and routine from which there was no straying. Every afternoon, tea was served from the samovar, at 6:30 every evening white-liveried servants summoned the household to a three-course dinner with a bell. Afterwards the family retired to the salon for coffee, sweets and a smoke before bed. Furthermore, while lounging in comfort at her husband's estate, Coretté witnessed the miserable conditions of the peasantry, living in poverty, ignorance and filth from the cradle to the grave under the interlocking power of the landlords, the orthodox church and the Tsar. They lived upon small strips of land which was insufficient to support them. They often were forced to work an allotted number of days on the vast estates of the wealthy landowners or for Kulaks (rich peasants). If they were unable to pay their taxes, the gendarmerie payed them a visit, seizing their horses, pigs, cows and anything else of value. Coretté watched from the estate windows as the peasants wept and merely declared that it was will of God. That thus it had always been, and so it must always be. She felt for the peasants, but maybe it was alright for her to be a little selfish in Russia after three hundred years of American slavery and oppression. Besides, she had troubles of her own. Her marriage was marred by jealousy from her in-laws who felt that her husband had married beneath him. He was accused of renouncing his family for a Negro that could hardly speak Russian.

In her unhappiness, she escaped the only way she knew, with her old family, the public. Now as Coretti de-Utina, she began performing across the glistening capital of the Tsar's dominion. From 11 o'clock in the evening until 4 o'clock the following morning, she traipsed along the Neva river, appearing in all the major theatres and cabarets. She would sing beautiful Russian Romance ballads (in imperfect Russian), Negro spirituals (which the audiences loved) and American blues before she gyrating onstage with her exotic belly dances. She emerged as the city's successful local entertainers. Those were halcyon days.

In the spring of 1910, after eight years abroad, Coretti returned to New York for an American tour, appearing in numerous hotels, clubs, churches and public functions that would permit her. It was a trip she'd been dreading, as she was terribly afraid that she could no longer stand America's prejudiced attitudes towards Negroes and in Europe, she had become so accustomed to being able to frequent any restaurant or public space that she wanted. During the course of the tour, she also paid a visit to her family. Then suddenly she was gone, by December she was back in Russia before Christmas.

By the summer of 1911, Coretti was in Kiev, thrilling the Ukrainian audiences every night at the Apollo Garden Theatre. While she toured across the Ukraine, A double agent shot and killed Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin while he attended a performance at the Kiev Opera House. The Tsar was so near the Prime Minister, that he heard the shots himself. A sense of doom settled over Russia, many felt apocalypse was fast approaching and no one and nothing could stop it.

Back in St. Petersburg, her marriage was often marred by jealousy and prejudice of her husband's numerous family who felt that he had married beneath him. He was accused of renouncing his family for a negro. Soon he began spending more and more time outside the house, and when he returned, she tortured him with questions. Quarrels began, and in the end, Coretti divorced her husband sometime in 1916/7.

Musical Education and the Russian Revolution (1913–1917)

In the of winter of 1913, Coretti was approached by Nikolai Burenin, esteemed member of the Petrograd Conservatory, popular pianist and underground revolutionary, to assist him in his latest venture. Burenin and fellow pianist Mikhail Bichter organized the Philharmonic Society, consisting of 100 Russian musicians and vocalists to provide literary evenings, theatrical and musical performances for the workers and peasants at the Ligovsky People’s House, or occasionally at the numerous factories on the far edges of Petrograd. From late April to early May 1914, the underground Bolshevik newspaper, Path of Truth, announced the "Literary & Musical evenings" at the Ligovsky People's House, located on 63 Tambovskaya Lane, on Petrograd's outer edges near the numerous factories and industrial plants. It was there every night, as the band struck up the music, Coretti emerged upon the makeshift stage inside the industrial plant. Before a backdrop of a blue sky and endless grain fields, Coretti, clothed in a tattered dress and carrying a sickle, began singing lamentable song of anguish, pain and suffering which was so dramatic and powerful that it touched the hearts of every worker in the audience that night. However, Coretti soon discovered that she'd performed for a roomful of revolutionaries who used the concerts as fronts for their anti-government meetings. Through Burenin, Coretti was introduced to many other revolutionary actors, composers, musicians, artists and writers. From her new Bolshevik acquaintances, she became more familiar with the unrelenting fury and brutality of the Tsarist gendarmerie and Okhrana (secret police) upon the lower classes. The leaders of the proletariat were shadowed, hunted and sent to rot in distant Siberian prisons for their illegal underground activities.

On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, setting in motion the events leading to the outbreak of World War I. On August 4th, the German Army advanced upon Belgium in response. Immediately afterwards: “Because of the aggressive attitude of the German government, France, Great Britain and its Allies have declared a general mobilisation.” Throughout the Russian Empire, the war was greeted with an eruption of patriotic fervor. Posters appeared everywhere, calling every able-bodied man to help defend their country. Men were seen standing in long lines to enlist (or to answer the draft), boys were boarded into trucks heading for their local regiment bases. On every street corner stood a soldier. That summer, Russia entered a period of unprecedented bloody savagery which would last for seven years and claim the lives of more than ten million people. No other country paid the price for the folly of 1914 as Russia did. Since the outbreak of the war, Russia's lack of arms and ammunition was quite apparent. The shortages became so severe that soldiers were sent to the front without guns and ordered to look for them amongst the dead. Many soldiers didn't even have boots. The officer corps, half of which were noblemen, suffered terrible losses in the first battles against the Germans. In the early months of war, many families began following the action closely on a large map of Europe. Most men were away fighting on the front lines, eventually even Emma Harris' husband was somewhere in Poland fighting in the trenches, leaving the women and children behind alone in the villages and cities. Caring for the sick and wounded soldiers became a popular way for noblewomen to do their part for the war effort. Although most of their motives were honest and sincere, there was some elements of vanity and rivalry amongst the aristocratic women to see who could house, feed and care for the soldiers more splendidly than the rest. Other nobles, such as the Sheremetevs’, converted several of their properties into hospitals, organized shipments of relief packages to Russian prisoners of war, helped bandage the wounded at private infirmaries and formed organizations dedicated to helping war orphans.

On September 1st, the Tsar declared that St. Petersburg would from then onwards be known as Petrograd. In the Petrograd, high society was basking in what would be Russia's last spectacular year and to be Russian society's greatest season. There was a feverish desire to have a good time to combat the undercurrent of nervousness. All of Petrograd indulged in wild partying, amusement and merrymaking before the Tsarist government initiated prohibition that November (alcohol was to banned for the remainder of the war). One highlight of the year was Countess Shuvalov's black and white ball, with the uniformed Chevalier Gardes in attendance. Everyone spent their evenings out at the opera and attending parties. At popular restaurants, everyone danced the tango and downing champagne to the wailing of gypsy singers, red-clad Romanian violinists and clinking glasses. People were spending money as quickly as they could because they weren't sure what was to happen next.

During the fall of 1916, a change came in Coretti’s life, with the war preventing her from touring extensively and her performances becoming sparse, she entered the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. Intense training in music and voice culture was often followed by private vocal lessons with Professor Elisabeth F. Zwanziger. Not long after she enrolled into the Conservatory, Coretti divorced her husband. He had begun to spend long periods away from home, and on the rare occasions that he returned, Coretti tormented him with questions. She believed he began to regret the marriage due to many of his family turning away from him for marrying her. Their arguments finally culminated with divorce. She had to paid well for her musical education, in order to remain at the Conservatory, she performed nightly at the local musichalls.

By the end of the year, with millions of peasants sent off to the front, food shortages loomed over Russia and the rapid increase in the price of goods fueled larger and more frequent strikes in the cities. The gendarmes were becoming reluctant to repel the masses of protesters, instead many policemen began joining the crowds, shouting: "Down with the War!" Once, while Grand Duchess Xenia's automobile drove through the streets of Petrograd, a group of street kids chased the car and pelted it with snowballs, yelling, "Down with the filthy bourgeoisie!" On the night of December 16th, a group of men led by Prince Felix Yusupov murdered Rasputin in an attempt to free Russia from his mysterious influence. Profoundly shaken by his death, the Tsar and his family retreated into seclusion. Petrograd became a massive lunatic asylum, discontent rising with each day. The dire food shortages, combined with the 300% inflation left Russia on the brink of revolution on the part of the lower classes.

Around the same time, during her underground revolutionary performances, she was introduced (and became close friends with) to Maxim Gorky,[2] who admired the way she performed Blues and Spirituals.A financially successful author, playwright and editor, Gorky (born Alexei Peshkov in 1868) was well noted for publicly opposing the Tsar, exposing the Tsarist government's control of the press and had been arrested and even exiled on numerous occasions. He supported liberal appeals to the government for civil rights and social reform. He was personal friend of Lenin since 1902, and was acquainted with many revolutionaries. His reputation grew as a literary voice of Russia's bottom strata of society and a fervent advocate of social, political and cultural transportation. Gorky also had a passionate love of the theater. One of his aspirations since the 1890s, was to develop a network of provincial theaters for the peasants in hopes to reform Russia's theatrical world. In 1904, he was able to open a theater in his hometown of Nizhny Novgorod, but unfortunately the government censors banned every play that he proposed and Gorky abandoned the project. He was noted for his disdain for female entertainers, yet despite that, he carried on an intense affair with a Russian actress and admitted that he was a fan of the popular singer, Coretti de-Utina, whose Negro folk songs captured the essence of the struggles of the proletariat.

On February 23, 1917, over seven thousand female textile workers from St. Petersburg's Vyborg district, marched through the streets crying for bread. The shortages had left the lower class starving, cold and desperate. Banners were erected everywhere, denouncing both the war and the Tsar. The crowds began breaking shops windows and raiding bakeries. Before the day ended, as many as ninety thousand had marched through the streets before order was restored. The revolution, however, had just begun. Throughout the night, Bolshevik revolutionaries organized further strikes and marches into the city center. The following morning, more than three hundred thousand workers from the northern outlying neighborhoods, crossed the Neva river at Alexandrovsky Bridge where they pushed through several hundred Cossacks on their way towards Nevsky Prospect. The city's fine inner-city neighborhoods had not seen such chaos since the 1905 revolution. By February 26th, Cossacks patrolled the streets and machine guns were positioned everywhere. Street gatherings were banned and residents were warned that the authorities were ordered to confront any unrest with force. Despite these measures, protesters filled the streets only to be met by gunfire. All the blood spilling in the streets caused many soldiers to mutiny and join the mobs. By February 27th, half of the city's 160,000 man garrison had joined the revolutionaries. Prisoners across the city were released into the streets, gendarmes were murdered, courthouses, arsenals, shops, private homes and the Ministry of the Interior were looted and ransacked. Mobs killed any respectable looking men, causing many gendarmes to strip their uniforms and flee the city. At the Mariinsky Palace, government ministers met to resign from their positions before slipping out of Petrograd by nightfall. Towards the end of the day, a red flag was raised above the Winter Palace. The capital was now under Bolshevik control.

During this hectic revolutionary period, on a trip to Finland while her studies at the Conservatory came to a halt, Coretti met the young, discreet and well-mannered pianist Boris Borisovich Titz. The Titz family, with origins traced back to Bavaria, made their way to Russia when concert artist, Augustus Dietz toured Russia in 1771. Augustus received an offer to remain in St. Petersburg as a member of Tsarina Catherine's Imperial court orchestra, where he amassed a huge fortune. Over the years, the Dietz family name eventually developed into Titz. Like most bourgeoisie families, the Titz's valued education, particularly musical education to continue their reputation as a noted musical family. On November 10, 1890, Boris Borisovich Titz was born on the family estate of Anninskoye in the village Vysh-Gorodishche deep in the Tver province, just north of Moscow. Unfortunately for Boris, by the time of his birth, much of the family fortune had dwindled away. Upon graduating from the Karl Marx School (and receiving a gold medal) in 1908, Boris shortly afterwards enrolled himself into the esteemed St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Musical Conservatory, where he studied piano under professor Anna Esipova. In order to afford to remain at the school, Boris provided private Math and Latin lessons for fellow classmates. After graduating from the conservatory in 1913, he found work around the city as a pianist, and supplemented his income by offering piano lessons at his apartment at 9, V.O. Avenue (apt. no. 20). Coretti and Boris' mutual sympathy grew into a deep feeling and two quickly began dating.

As their world dissolved around them, many aristocrats fled to the countryside. The old order evaporated and anarchy spread. As the Duma met at Tauride Palace to consider how to address the chaos, a rival political power, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers & Soldiers Deputies, held a meeting in the palace's right wing. The new provincial government, in order to win the support of the Soviet and it's leader, Vladimir Lenin, agreed to amnesty for all political prisoners, freedom of speech, press and assembly. They also agreed to the abolition of all restrictions based on race, class, religion and nationality. The Okhrana and corps de Gendarmes was also to be abolished. The Bolsheviks began attacking the Burzhúi (bourgeoisie), or anyone classified as privileged. All it took was a starched white shirt, smooth hands, eyeglasses, a woman's hairstyle or even any evidence of bathing could classify a person as Burzhúi, causing an angry mob to set upon you. As private residences were raided, like most people, Coretti remained indoors with the curtains drawn. Peering out the window into the street below, she watched frozen corpses gradually being covered by snow. Due to the February Revolution, her studies at the Conservatory were suddenly interrupted. Luckily, in March 1917, pianist Mikhail Bichter, director of the Philharmonic Society, relocated south to the Ukraine and opened the new Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory on 53 Chernyshevskaya Prospekt in Kharkov. In September 1917, as classes resumed in at the new conservatory, Coretti escaped Petrograd's chaotic atmosphere for the tranquility in Kharkov, to continue vocal training with Mikhail Bichter. Accompanying her to the Ukraine was Boris, whom had accepted a teaching job in the Conservatory's piano department.

Ukraine (1917-1920)

Due to the February Revolution, Coretti's studies at the Conservatory were temporarily interrupted. Luckily, in March 1917, pianist Mikhail Bichter, director of the Philharmonic Society, relocated south to the Ukraine and opened the new Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory on 53 Chernyshevskaya Prospekt in Kharkov. In September 1917, as classes resumed in at the new conservatory, Coretti escaped Petrograd's chaotic atmosphere for the tranquility in Kharkov, to continue vocal training with Mikhail Bichter. Accompanying her to the Ukraine was Boris, whom had accepted a teaching job in the Conservatory's piano department.

Six months later, on March 3, 1918, the newly formed Soviet Union backed out of the war after the signing of Brest-Litvosk Treaty. Ten days later, 30,000 German and Austrian troops marched into the Ukraine, and formed the new puppet state known as the Hetmanate. The region became terribly dangerous, besides the Red Army attempting to push out the Germans, the Ukraine's notorious criminal gangs (their brazen behavior comparable to Chicago's gangsters) began a reign of terror with nightly burglaries and murders in the streets. Until 1923, food was scarce and expensive, one stood hours in queues and then often got nothing.

In April 1918, as German troops occupied Kharkov, Coretti escaped the violence by embarking on a extended Siberian tour. By August 1918, she was appearing successfully in Vladivostok at the Golden Horn Restaurant. Vladivostok (and other cities in the Russian Far East territories) was full of life, spies, beautiful women and war profiteers offering jewels and paintings to get a place on trains and ships to China, Japan and America. Her performances charmed the audiences mostly composed of off-duty American, British, Italian and French officers. Her Vladivostok engagement would've been her last opportunity to attempt to leave Russia as around that same time, America withdrew its ambassador from Russia making her passport invalid, and since she was possibly a Russian citizen since her previous marriage, travel back to America was to become impossible until 1933.

Most of Russia's American community had fled by January 1918 and Coretti pondered the idea of returning to the United States as well, with the dreams of one day opening a vocal school for children. To persuade her stay, after a year and a half of courtship, Boris proposed to Coretti. He warned her of the growing anti-Bolshevik sentiments in America, as well as reminded her that a Negro woman opening a conservatory would be much harder than she thought. In this situation, she believes she had no choice but to succumb to her lover's insistent requests. In November 1918, as the Germans were finally pushed out and the Hetmanate dissolved, Coretti was engaged in active concert activity[3]. Moving away from exotic dances, Coretti, now apart of the Concert Brigade of the South-Western Front, toured the Ukraine with Boris as her pianist. Together for three years (1918-20), they entertained in theatres, libraries, nightclubs, mines, factories, hospital, Red Army military camps and even the Kharkov Opera.

In 1920, in the midst of their non-stop touring, after refusing him four times, Coretti and Boris quietly married. Coretti had informed him of how her first marriage fell apart, yet Boris promised that not all men were the same. He wouldn't allow anyone to interfere with their private lives and reminded her that he loved her no matter what color her skin was, that the human soul didn't depend on skin color. Fortunately, his family and friends quickly accepted his new wife.

Soviet Career and the Introduction of Jazz (1921–1940)

In 1921, the couple relocated to Moscow, where Coretti continued her studies at the Opera Studio at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory under the direction of Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov and his wife Varvara Mikhailovna Zarudna (as well as training from Nadezhda Ignatyevna Kalnin-Gandolfi). In late 1923, shortly after graduation, Coretti began appearing in Leningrad at Boris Pronin's Mansard Club.

On April 3, 1924, her first (and only) performance as an opera singer took place at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in a production of “Aida”, surprisingly role which echoed her reality - an Egyptian captive, a Negro slave, who threw off the shackles of slavery in the name of love. That winter, she became acquainted with W.E.B. Du Bois, whom mailed numerous American Jazz and Blues musical scores to Moscow. After that performance, she began an extensive concert tour across the USSR which lasted nearly eight years (1924-1931). She later returned the following year (April 3, 1925), with three concerts featuring Russian Romance songs and Negro Spirituals. Once again, she received major applause and complements from the Soviet government and the Russian populace. Despite the difficulties of the Soviet way of life, their life turned out well: Coretti and Boris became associated with common friends, common interests, and art. Among their many friends were Maxim Gorky and Ippolitov-Ivanov (talented and famous opera composer).[4]

In the spring of 1926, as Frank Withers & his Jazz Kings Band (featuring Sidney Bechet) arrived in Moscow, Corette was offered to appear with them, and reap the success jazz was creating in Russia. She opened with the band at the Cinema Malaya Dimitrova, also making engagements at the Hall of Writers and the Moscow Conservatory. Cine Dimitrova, the ‘Palace of the Silver Screen’ opened a new Hollywood film there each week to packed audiences. Whenever Corette appeared with Withers’s band, the theatre was packed before the first note sounded. Couples took to the aisles and danced the Charleston. That summer, she also joined them on a Ukrainian tour.

In June 1927, she performed the first noted jazz performance in Azerbaijan[5] before performing that winter, in the famous Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic, accompanying the ‘First Concert Jazz Band’ led by Leopold Teplitsky and composed of about 15 people (2 violins, banjo, grand piano, tuba, trumpets, clarinets, saxophones, trombones and, of course, a great set of percussion instruments). Coretti, quite tall, lush, in an open green silk dress with a pelerine, perfectly in harmony with her golden brown skin, sang in English with a strong, rather low voice of a very beautiful timbre. The concert was unusual for that time. The hall was literally bursting with the public, as there weren't enough entrance tickets, many of the audience stood in the gallery or walking along the perimeter of the hall.

In 1928, after making several recordings, Corette began a four-year tour, appearing in Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia and frequent appearances deep in Siberia. Although she performed jazz, she usually reverted to singing in Russian or Negro Spirituals. In 1930, she participated in a Jazz-revue led by Simon Kagan.

In the summer of 1932, Coretti was among those who welcomed 21 African Americans (including Langston Hughes) who had come to organize and appear in the political anti-racism film *Black & White* with the Meschrabpom Film company.[6] In 1933, she was introduced to African-American expat, Robert Robinson in Leningrad, and often brought him to parties across town and introduced him to her many intellectual friends. That year she also recorded two spiritual records - "Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child" and "Little David Play on your Harp". On March 29, 1934, Coretti celebrated her 10th year on the Soviet stage by a Radio-Concert at the Moscow Radio-Theater[7] with many other Soviet entertainers. The radio broadcast reached as far as Paris where it was praised by the French press. After the assassination of Sergei Mironovich Kirov, Stalin's assumed successor, on December 1, 1934, life became much more oppressed within the Soviet Union.

Early 1935, after meeting Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson as they toured across Russia, Coretti was permitted to visit America to spend time with her sick mother before she died. However, she no longer found an interest in America and swiftly returned to the Soviet Union after the funeral. In May 1936, Coretti appeared in the film *Circus (1936 film)* in the small role of the little black son of the heroine of the film Marion Dixon (Lyubov Orlova), before returning to her usual touring.

Later Career (1941–1951)

On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the USSR. Corette fortunately survived the German invasion of Russia, with Hitler's army arrested only 44 miles (71 km) from Moscow. She organized an anti air raid squad on the roof of her apartment building and nursed ailing soldiers at Hospital No. 5012. Despite the war, she continued giving out sold out concerts at the Maly Theatre that December.

In 1942, as World War II raged, Coretti and her husband made concert tours to Ivanovo, Nizhny Novgorod (at the time called Gorky),Kazan and other cities, performing spirtituals on the front lines or singing before injured in field hospitals until Boris resumed work at the Conservatory despite the war conditions. For the majority of 1945, she spent time in Batumi on the Black sea coast, filming "The 15 Year Old Captain" (directed V.M. Zhuravlev), where she played the part of the old maid, Nan.

After twenty years of intense and continuous work, the forces of Arle-Titz were undermined, her voice became worn out and lost its former beauty and full-soundness. Which explains why after the war, she retired from the stage and lived quietly in Moscow until her death, December 14, 1951.

After the death and cremation of Coretti Henrichovna Arle-Titz on December 14, 1951, Boris Borisovich turned to Varvara Mikhailovna Zarudnaya's niece, Vera Nikolaevna, with a request for the temporary burial of the urn with the ashes of his wife next to her close friend, composer Ippolitov-Ivanov. Coretti Arle-Titz was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery on December 15, 1951, in the family grave of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov and his wife, Varvara Mikhailovna Zarudnaya. In later years, Boris Borisovich did not have time to rebury the remains of Coretti, and after his death (in 1963) he was instead buried beside her.


  1. ^ Simon Géza Gábor. The Pre-History of Jazz In Hungary
  2. ^ William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. The Crisis
  3. ^ The Collected Works of Langston Hughes — University of Missouri Press, 2001. — P. 69.
  4. ^ The Collected Works of Langston Hughes — University of Missouri Press, 2001. — P. 69.
  5. ^ Baku Jazz History
  6. ^ The Collected Works of Langston Hughes — University of Missouri Press, 2001. — P. 69.
  7. ^ William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. The Crisis

External Sources

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