The Tunesmith Horst Jankowski

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Introduction to Horst Jankowski

Horst Jankowski was a German pianist and instrumental composer, whose particular musical scope specialized in easy listening, space age pop and jazz music.  He became internationally known during the 60s music scene. Jankowski was born in Berlin, on January 30, 1936.  He was a student of the Berlin Music Conservatory and started out as a classical pianist.  Eventually, Jankowski shifted to jazz at and began playing at German clubs.  He was once a leader of a band that accompanied Paris-born Italian jazz vocalist Caterina Valente.  Jankowski’s style was often compared to other easy-listening pop mavens Juan Garcia Esquivel’s and Ray Conniff’s.  Jankowski rose to international fame in 1965 via his famous pop piece, “A Walk in the Black Forest.” known in his homeland as “Eine Schwarzwaldenfahrt.” The song’s popularity also aided Jankowski to sign to Mercury Records, which released his records from 1965 until 1969. Afterwards, Jankowski’s concentration leaned more on jazz.  He began doing jazzed-up covers of popular songs, while continuing to compose and perform easy-listening music.  He died of lung cancer in 1998.

Jankowski’s early life and career

The late Horst Jankowski was a German pianist and bandleader specializing in classical music. Born on January 30, 1936 in Berlin, Germany, Jankowski became famous for his original instrumentals and internationally-acclaimed easy-listening music. During the 1950s, he attended the Berline Music Conservatory and played professionally. He also became a leader for a band that accompanied Italian singer Caterina Valente.

“A Walk in the Black Forest”

Jankowski gained the attention of music enthusiasts when he issued “Eine Schwarzwaldenfahrt,” more known as “A Walk in the Black Forest” in 1965. The tune became a chart-topper on the US easy-listening chart and at #12 on the US pop chart. It was also a big hit in the UK, peaking at #3. The million-selling record gained a gold disc status. Around the same time, he released another million-selling record, The Genius of Jankowski.

Later career

During the late 1960’s, Jankowski continued to issue numerous albums which most of them became successful. In the 1970’s he focused more on jazz, doing covers of pop and rock hits. On his most recent compilation Black Forest Explosion, it included a jazzy vocal choral version of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” He also teamed up with German reed player Rolf Kuhns. By the 1980s, he was no longer heard on the American airwaves but continued to work in his native country. On June 29, 1998, Jankowski died from lung cancer in Bonn, Germany, aged 62.

Jankowski’s discography

The Genius of Jankowski (Mercury, 1964)

  • A1: A Walk In The Black Forest
  • A2: Toselli Serenade
  • A3: Soon Luck Will Also Knock On Your Door
  • B1: My Yiddishe Momme
  • B2: Simple-Gimpel
  • B3: Donkey Serenade

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1965)

  • A: A Walk In The Black Forest (Eine Schwarzwaldfahrt)
  • B: Nola

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1965)

  • A: Simpel Gimpel
  • B: Charming Vienna

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1965)

  • A: Heide
  • B: Happy Frankfurt

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1965)

  • A: Play A Simple Melody
  • B: Cruising Down The Rhine

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1966)

  • A: Black Forest Holiday
  • B: Elmer’s Tune

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1966)

  • A: So What’s New?
  • B: A Place In The Sun

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1966)

  • A: The Spy With The Cold Nose
  • B: Big Big River

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1967)

  • A: A Man And A Woman
  • B: A Lover’s Concerto

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1968)

  • A: The Glory Of Love
  • B: Lazy 

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1968)

  • A: Zabadak
  • B: And We Got Love

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1968)

  • A: Zabadak [Mono]
  • B: Zabadak (Stereo Version)

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1968)

  • A: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • B: This Guy’s In Love With You

Horst Jankowski (Mercury, 1969)

  • A: Dream Flight
  • B: Pink Balloon

The Stereos/ Horst Jankowski (Collectables, 1986)

  • A: I Really Love You
  • A Walk In The Black Forest

Horst Jankowski (Mercury Celebrity Series)

  • A: A Walk In The Black Forest
  • B: Simpel Gimpel

Horst Jankowski (Beverly Hills)

  • A: A Walk In The Black Forest
  • B: Blue Spring
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