Boris Lensky

Date of birth
Date deceased


Boris Lensky was born in 1883 as John Chits. He grew up in Haarlem, studied a classical violin education at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, and then studied in Brussels. He briefly played in the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Willem Mengelberg, but he ultimately opted for a career as a violinist in entertainment theatres, under the name of Boris Lensky.

He played for a while in a theatre in London's Piccadilly Circus, and became the violinist in Amsterdam’s Cinema Palace once he had returned to the Netherlands. With Max Tak, the conductor of the Tuschinski Theater’s orchestra, Lensky grew into the most popular cinema musician in Amsterdam. In 1914 he played the lead role in the short film Zijn viool, made by Filmfabriek Hollandia.

In Zijn viool, Lensky played a young violinist who performed for the daughter of a forest ranger. When a fire breaks out, the girl puts her own life at risk to rescue his Stradivarius from the flames. On her deathbed, the violinist plays her favourite music, the 'Elegie Hongroise'. In the cinema, Lensky accompanied the film live from the orchestra pit.

At the end of the 1910s, Lensky began to made records for the English label Columbia. He would go on to record dozens of albums in total. When the radio became popular in the mid-1920s, Lensky became one of the permanent employees of the Dutch broadcaster AVRO. He could often be heard on the radio, in recitals, and in the popular program ‘De bonte dinsdagavondtrein'. After the advent of sound films, which drove most cinema musicians out of the cinemas, Lensky’s radio work became his main source of income.

That is, until the Second World War brought an end to his radio career; Lensky, who was Jewish, was forced to go into hiding. After the war, he performed for some time as a restaurant pianist.



  1. 1914

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