In 1933, the Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress created a melody called Gloomy Sunday (in French “Dark Sunday” and originally Szomorú Vasárnap). Some time after his release and his many radio appearances, the melody would have caused the death by suicide of more than a hundred people, which earned him to be nicknamed in the country of birth of Seress, the “Song Suicide.


Image credit: Fekete, 1939
Indeed, the music was composed by Rezső Seress in 1933 and the lyrics were written by László Jávor, author of Hungarian poem. The music was then taken up by the singer Pál Kalmár in 1935, then by the two American singers Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday in the 1940s.

Legend has it that the song was inspired by the tragic rupture of Seres with his lover, who later committed suicide, others, however, defends that it was Jávor’s suicidal girlfriend who inspired the song or even that the melody was composed in honor of the composer’s dead. Anyway, the mysterious song is told by the point of view of a person whose love “is dead” and who thinks of suicide to join them, all accompanied by a particularly sad melody .

Seen ironically by some, Seress committed suicide on January 13, 1968. The New York Times will report that the song “Gloomy Sunday” had depressed Seress because he thought no more powers to create music to success, facts not proven. However, the truth is that the link between the song and the suicide began even before its publication, since the second publisher who had received the score committed suicide shortly thereafter. The curse of the song spread soon.

In an article published in March 1936 by Time magazine, it showed a series of suicides in Hungary related to the song as: a shoemaker who wrote on paper the name of the song before committing suicide, two people who were suicidal while they were listening to him or stories of dozens of people who threw themselves into the Danube, some of whom survived. Subsequently, the curse crosses the borders of Hungary. The New York Times reports a number of suicides and suicide attempts in the United States after listening to “Gloomy Sunday.”

In 1941, the BBC radio decided to ban the song to (bad) success until 2002. Of this step, many stores (because it also served as background music) refused to have the song among their lives, convinced that it could also spread the curse on them.

As might be expected, science also wanted to study the mysterious song revolving around death. Their final theory is linked to a phenomenon called “contagious suicide” or the Werther effect, which means that a person who is surrounded by “suicidal thoughts” (real or fictitious) or the recent suicide of a close can in turn, bring the desire to commit suicide.

The investigations were also extended to the world of film and television, especially to try to find subliminal visual or auditory messages that would have triggered these massive suicides, but nothing was found.

 

Lyrics of the song :

Sunday is gloomy, my hours are slumberless

Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless

Little white flowers will never awaken you

Not where the black coach of sorrows has taken you

Angels have no thought of ever returning you

Would they be angry if I thought of joining you?

Gloomy Sunday

 

Gloomy is Sunday, with shadows I spend it all

My heart and I have decided to end it all

Soon there will be candles and prayers that are sad, I know

Let them not weep, Let them know that I’m glad to go

Death is no dream, for in death I am caressing you

With the last breath of my soul I’ll be blessing you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming

I wake and find you asleep in the deep of my heart, deep

Darling, I hope that my dream never haunted you

My heart is telling you how much I wanted you

Gloomy Sunday



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