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Who is Ari Leschnikoff?

Asparuh “Ari” Leschnikoff was born in Haskovo, Bulgaria on June 16, 1897. He went to cadet school in Sofia in 1916, becoming a lieutenant after WWI. In 1922, he came to Germany to study music and was hired into a theater choir in 1926 where he met Robert Biberti and Roman Josef Cycowski.

Leshnikoff auditioned for and joined the Comedian Harmonists in 1927. You can learn about their success here. When the group fell apart in 1935, he started a new group with the remaining members of the Harmonists along with 3 new singers. That new group fell apart in 1938 when Erwin Bootz left and Leshnikoff denounced Biberti to the Gestapo for comments he made about the regime.

Leshnikoff owed Biberti money and ended up giving him his share of the Harmonists’ royalties.

Leshnikoff tried to become a solo singer in 1939 but eventually moved back to Sofia in 1940.

1942: Drafted as a captain, bought a 4-story house in Sofia.

1944: House was destroyed in a bombing raid.

1947: His wife divorced him and took their son, Simon, with her.

1952: Married again, worked as a gardener and in a factory to make ends meet.

In 1978, Leschnikoff died at 81 and was impoverished, begging Biberti in his last years of life for the Harmonist royalties he had given up long ago.

In Harmony: A New Musical, Asparuh “Ari” Leschnikoff is portrayed on stage by Steven Telsey (“Lesh”). 

The Musical about The Comedian Harmonists

Starting performances on Broadway on October 18th is the first and only musical about this singing group – Harmony: A New Musical

The complete Broadway cast includes Chip Zien as Rabbi, Sierra Boggess as Mary, Julie Benko as Ruth, Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman, and Steven Telsey as the Comedian Harmonists, Allison Semmes as Josephine Baker, Andrew O’Shanick as Standartenfϋhrer, Zak Edwards, Dan Hoy, Bruce Landry, Rhonni Rose Mantilla, Daniel Z. Miller, Benjamin H. Moore, Matthew Mucha, Constantine Pappas, Kayleen Seidl, Kyla Stone, Bronwyn Tarboton, Kate Wesler, Stuart Zagnit, and Lee Zarrett. 

To learn more about Harmony: A New Musical, click here.

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