”Mustan miehen musiikkia”

Suomenjuutalaisten jazzmuusikoiden nimenvaihdot ja identiteetin neuvottelu 1920–40-luvuilla


  • Simo Muir


”Black Man’s Music”: Name Changes and Identity Negotiation among Finnish Jewish Jazz Musicians during 1920s – 1940s 

Many name changes of Jewish performing artists in Finland during the 1920s–1940s raise questions about the status of musicians from ethnic minorities and the boundaries of entertainment industry. In this article, I examine, on the one hand, the creating of an image of a ”Finnish” or ”American” jazz musician by name changes, and on the other hand, the concealing of one’s own ethnic origins in an occasionally xenophobic and antisemitic atmosphere. I also analyse how they have negotiated their musician identity in terms of Finnishness, Finnish Swedishness, Jewishness and African American jazz. As examples I use the five siblings of the Manulkin family and Jaakko Furman in Helsinki because of their prominent position and because in their cases the discussed phenomena are clearly visible.

The Manulkin siblings took American-style names on their own initiative and Furman a Finnish name at his employer’s requirement. In the Manulkin case the name changes allowed them to create a musician image in harmony with the genre they represented. Their name changes also illustrate how Jewish musicians tried to adapt to the pressure of the time, at the same time wanting to preserve the integrity of their ethnic and cultural identity.

When negotiating his identity in interviews, Furman does not bring up his Jewish background as he does with his identity as a Finnish Swedish speaker. His ethnic background is only reflected on the interviewers’ initiative when discussing the prominent role of Jewish musicians in the field of jazz and the xenophobic atmosphere of the Second World War. In interviews, Furman identifies himself more with Swedish speaking swing musicians than as a representative of Jewish jazz musicians in Finland or as a member of the Jewish community. He emphasises how jazz music provided Finnish Jewish musicians with a more tolerant community and atmosphere that rose above discrimination. 





Muir, S. (2022). ”Mustan miehen musiikkia” : Suomenjuutalaisten jazzmuusikoiden nimenvaihdot ja identiteetin neuvottelu 1920–40-luvuilla. Musiikki, 52(2). https://doi.org/10.51816/musiikki.119944