Romania screens a Bernstein parody

Romania screens a Bernstein parody


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2023

In 1974, when Lenny was still the toast of New York, Romanian TV commissioned a comedian to send him up.

Not very successfully, unless there’s a Romanian joke we are missing.


  • Stephen L says:

    Well, not quite sure what to say! Didn’t hear the audience laugh, either!

  • Adam Stern says:

    He looks like a cross between Rowan Atkinson and Lino Ventura.

  • IP says:

    Something like 8 years later, when Lenny was taking Vienna by storm, Maxi Boehm impersonated him much more lovingly and successfully. You can catch a glimpse here (about 29 minutes into the documentary).

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    One wonders why they bothered, as he had yet to conquer Vienna, so he couldn’t have been so well known in Bucharest – so one assumes this was antisemitic propaganda.

    • Jean says:

      The comedician, Toma Caragiu, wrote that he got beaten up during the war time many times by the Nazis because he was generally thought to be a Jew.

      He and his father worked at a Jewish restaurant during this time when most people tried to avoid dealings with the Jewish population.

      I can assure you that he had no anti-Semitic thoughts whatsoever.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Is it about Bernstein? The description accompanying the video doesn’t mention him.

  • Bloom says:

    LOL. It is very funny. Rather in a Pythonesque, absurd way, to give you a reference you know. A silly pop song is being deconstructed with the very pompous sagacity of a classical conductor.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    it didn’t take much to make a population miserable with communism laugh.

  • MR says:

    The funniest music parody I know of is Dick Shawn doing a sixties rock star in The Producers.

  • C'asa-i in tenis says:

    Ha, ha!
    The punchline: The conductor is commenting that, after listening the music composed by his sweetheart (the song sung previously by Margareta P. and then presented in symphonic version by
    the orchestra), a soldier refused to be discharged from the army.
    Both the “conductor” and the singer were colleagues playing Brecht ( The 3 penny opera), in a famous theatre, “Bulandra”, in Bucharest in 1964. And yes, Bernstein’s music lessons on American TV were broadcast in Eastern Europe during that Socialist epoch.
    Toma Caragiu was a great actor who tragically died on 4th March 1977, during a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. He was a genius in both tragical and comical genre.

  • antiwoke says:

    The “conductor” played in an antifascist movie (1975). Toma Caragiu impresonates here a great actor from a previous generation (1945) called Constantin Tanase, who was using satire to criticize the government and fascist forces during the war. Tanase was a prominent force in Bucharest’s cultural landscape with a nightly show and his courage in speaking our against fascism almost cost him his life. “The Actor and the Savages”.
    His credentials are spotless, as I think you know already.

  • lmpop says:

    I think you should be a good speaker of Romanian, and have a good knowledge period and the regime when this was done, something like living through it, in order to judge it. Toma Caragiu had a certain charisma, he was hilarious by just being and speaking, and struck a special cord in all of us who remember him.