Rudolf Nelson

Rudolf Nelson (1878–1960), a cabaret artist and pianist, started out as a salesman. However, he gave up that profession for the “small stage”. Even before the First World War, he began to gather experience as a theater director and composer of operettas. In 1919 he founded the Nelson-Festspiele (Nelson Festival), renamed the Nelson Theater a year later, at the corner of Fasanenstraße and Kurfürstendamm. This variety theater hosted performances of works by the likes of Walter Mehring and Kurt Tucholsky and, in 1926, served as the venue for Josephine Baker’s first appearance in Berlin. Soon after, Nelson moved to the Palmenhaus (Palm House; today Kurfürstendamm 193/194). In exile, Nelson managed the exile cabaret La Gaité in Scheveningen (Netherlands), among other activities. In 1949 he wrote the last of his more than 130 theatrical revues, a piece entitled “Berlin Weh Weh” (“Berlin Oh Woe”). Among the best-known of the more than 4,000 popular songs that he composed is “Tulpen aus Amsterdam” (“Tulips of Amsterdam”). Nelson is buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Berlin-Dahlem.

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