Paul Kuhn

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Paul Kuhn (2005)

Paul Kuhn (born March 12, 1928 in Wiesbaden ; † September 23, 2013 in Bad Wildungen ) was a German - Swiss pianist , band leader , singer and composer .


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Living Doll
  DE 37 03/01/1960 (4 weeks)
Frankfurt polka
  DE 47 06/01/1962 (4 weeks)
There is no beer on Hawaii
  DE 5 10/01/1963 (25 weeks)
Every day I love you a little more (with Greetje Kauffeld)
  DE 42 02/01/1964 (8 weeks)
Don't give the boy the violin
  DE 27 December 01, 1964 (20 weeks)
Mensch Berlin (with Mario Barth)
  DE 63 07/18/2008 (3 weeks)

Paul Kuhn was born in Wiesbaden as the son of a croupier . At the age of eight he appeared as an accordion player at the radio exhibition in Berlin in 1936 . The boy who almost disappeared behind his instrument was nicknamed Paulchen. Later he played "Eimer" for the guests in the Wiesbaden wine bar. During his time as a Hitler Youth he discovered jazz music . In 1944 he worked as a troop supervisor for the Wehrmacht in Paris.

After his training with Kurt Thomas at the Musisches Gymnasium Frankfurt am Main , Kuhn attended the Conservatory in Wiesbaden from the age of 17 . At the same time he was already working publicly as a pianist, also in the field of jazz music. In 1945 Germany was divided into zones of occupation ; today's Hesse belonged to the US zone of occupation . Kuhn appeared before American GIs and was employed by the AFN soldier broadcaster . He was on the air almost every day and played live from the studio with his band. He appropriated the repertoire of Glenn Miller (1904–1944) and based himself on his sound.

Kuhn played in the Berlin Femina Bar with Freddie Brocksieper and also appeared in early West German jazz clubs . In the 1950s, Kuhn arranged and composed light music. From the mid-1950s, he increasingly appeared with sung hits . His greatest success was the hit song Der Mann am Klavier, composed by Horst-Heinz Henning in 1954 . Three years later, Kuhn took part in the German preliminary decision for the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Das Klavier über mir , but only achieved third place. In 1963 he sang with jazz singer Greetje Kauffeld. Every day I love you a little more ; it became a hit, followed by Kuhn's solo performance, There Is No Beer in Hawaii (1963).

Paul Kuhn in 1978 as band leader of the SFB big band

With the advent of music programs on public television , Paul Kuhn became a permanent musical guest on German screens. His most important activity as arranger and band leader was the management of the big band of the Sender Freies Berlin ( SFB Big Band ) from 1968. During this time he was guest director of the SFB dance orchestra in numerous television programs, including the big international show Series Gala-Abend der Schallplatte in 1969 (Conference: Vivi Bach and Dietmar Schönherr ), 1971 (Conference: Eva Renzi and Paul Hubschmid ) and 1973 (Conference: Rudi Carrell ); The dance music programs on the screen and the Paul's Party series were legendary . 1980 was a difficult year for Kuhn: The SFB big band was dissolved, the record publisher EMI - Electrola fired him; His television program Gong Show was also discontinued after four episodes, and the second marriage failed. For a new beginning, Kuhn moved to Cologne, founded his own orchestra and then made his debut at the Press Ball in Cologne in October 1981 . With his orchestra he accompanied Peter Alexander on the 1983 tour and later on his last tour from 1990 to 1991.

From the mid-1990s he was active again in jazz. The Paul Kuhn Trio consisted of him on grand piano , Willy Ketzer on drums and Martin Gjakonovski and Gary Todd on bass . They were strengthened by Benny Bailey on the trumpet , Gustl Mayer on the saxophone and the Dutch singer Greetje Kauffeld. Since the summer of 2000 he was touring with Max Greger , Hugo Strasser and the SWR Big Band as swing legends . In 2008 Paul Kuhn recorded the CD Mensch Berlin together with Mario Barth .

At the end of 2011 Kuhn flew to Los Angeles and recorded the album The LA Session in the Capitol Studios , accompanied by John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton . The album, released in 2013, received excellent reviews: "Gifted improvisation - and the merging of three greats in their field" wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , for example .

Private life

Kuhn had had an apartment in Switzerland since the 1970s. In 1980 he moved to Lenzerheide in the Swiss canton of Graubünden . He lived there with his third wife Ute Hellermann, whom he married in 1988, until his death. In November 1994 the couple was sentenced to one year probation for tax evasion of almost DM 1 million.

In 2005, Kuhn had to undergo heart surgery, and in 2007 he contracted shingles . In the years that followed, his hearing and eyesight deteriorated.

Paul Kuhn died on September 23, 2013 during a spa stay in Bad Wildungen, Hesse . He left behind his wife Ute and his son Daniel from his first marriage.

Artistic development

Kuhn studied the accordion , piano and clarinet one after the other . He made his first television appearance at the age of eight at the 1936 radio exhibition in Berlin . His career as a jazz pianist began shortly after the end of the war in the clubs of the US Army and gave him a permanent position at the broadcaster AFN for several years .

Pop singer

Paul Kuhn - The man at the piano

As a pop singer, Kuhn played titles such as The Man at the Piano (1954), There is no beer in Hawaii (1963) and The Color of Love (1958 in the hit parades). The mood song The Man at the Piano , produced by Nils Nobach , has sold over 250,000 times.


As a pianist, Kuhn Art Tatum and George Shearing as well as - especially in terms of style, with often sparing individual notes and chord setting - Hank Jones were among his models. Excursions into bebop are documented by pieces such as Stitt's tune (2002) and Ornithology (1999).

Band leader

Paul Kuhn (left) with Tony Lakatos (center) and Gary Todd on bass (2008)

As an arranger and band leader, Kuhn orientated himself primarily towards Count Basie . “Basie is the basis,” said Kuhn. And: “I play the piano, but my real instrument is my band.” He wrote his first arrangement with friends about With me you are beautiful when you were 15 years old. He accompanied many top stars of German-speaking entertainment on their concert tours, including Peter Alexander , on whose tour in 1979 Paul Kuhn's wife, Ute Hellermann , was the choirmaster of their Ute Mann Singers . The orchestra was directed by Dieter Reith .


As a producer, Kuhn promoted up-and-coming talent from the end of the 1950s - including Ralf Bendix , Rocco Granata , Howard Carpendale  - and produced their recordings.

Entertainer and actor

As an entertainer and actor, Kuhn has appeared in a number of television programs, including with Willy Maertens , Walter Richter and Hanns Lothar in Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1958), in the mistaken comedy Drillinge am Bord (1959), Spiel mit Vieren, Hallo Paulchen, Paul's Party . In a television series of skits entitled Der Forstarzt (1992) with Harald Juhnke , Kuhn appeared in the role of a director.

In 1985 he played himself in the television film The Man at the Piano , together with international singing stars such as Gilbert Bécaud , Marlène Charell and Bibi Johns . In 2010, Kuhn played alongside Peter Lohmeyer and Mina Tander in the tragic comedy Schenk mir dein Herz by Nicole Weegmann, the tailor-made role of an old jazz pianist. Kuhn also composed a few songs for this film. It started in cinemas nationwide on May 5, 2011, was the opening film of the Festival of German Films on June 16, 2011 and was later broadcast several times on German television. In 2012, author Christoph Simon gathered friends and companions of Paul Kuhn in front of the camera for his documentary Paul Kuhn - The Man at the Piano , such as Götz Alsmann , Till Brönner , Helge Schneider and his long-time drummer Willy Ketzer .


Vinyl singles

(without instrumental recordings)

title Label Catalog no. Publish
This is what all little girls / amigo dream of Columbia 5613 1/1958
Chicago / This song is for you Columbia 5623 3/1958
The color of love / lonely cowboy Columbia 20 383 5/1958
Midnight / Secretly Electrola 21 006 10/1958
Butterfly Doll / Eltibadabo Puka Puka / Columbia 21 113 3/1959
In a small pastry shop / Miss Pardon Electrola 21 216 6/1959
I got a bride in Winnipeg / Gigi hates it to me Electrola 21 241 7/1959
The great luck / on my watch Electrola 21 276 9/1959
Two in one big city / Once upon a time there was a musician
(with Alice Babs , Svend Asmussen , Ulrik Neumann )
Electrola 21 286 9/1959
Living Doll / Charming Boy Electrola 21 374 1/1960
Her name is mary / Columbia 21 470 4/1960
In the middle of the night / Avignon Columbia 21 583 8/1960
Buy yourself a colorful balloon / you are not in the address book Electrola 21 658 11/1960
Old McDonald / Dance my Darling Columbia 21 732 2/1961
Josephine / Adieu Mamatschi knows that Columbia 21 921 9/1961
Cara Caramel Chocolat / Amor, Amor, Amor Columbia 21 975 11/1961
Frankfurt polka / Heidelberg polka Columbia 22 103 4/1962
Quando, Quando, Quando / If you ever get married Columbia 22 143 4/1962
We fly to Venus / Klingeling Columbia 22 265 7/1962
There is no beer in Hawaii / Beer is the soul of the piano Columbia 22 427 5/1963
Umbrella Song / Everywhere In Paris
(with Jacqueline Boyer )
Columbia 22 428 5/1963
When you count the stars in the sky / Hello Josephine Columbia 22 486 7/1963
Every day, I love you a little more / Benny's Doodlin 'Band
(with Greetje Kauffeld )
Columbia 22 608 11/1963
My dachshund Waldemar and I / the pianist from the Grand Hotel Columbia 22 664 3/1964
Driving license of love / in the evening I have to dance Columbia 22 684 4/1964
Young love in May / Yes, I only feel at home with you
(with Greetje Kauffeld)
Columbia 22 709 5/1964
Blue Honey Moon / Dear good old moon
(with Greetje Kauffeld)
Columbia 22 810 11/1964
Don't give the boy the violin / As cool, cool, cool as my beer Columbia 22 823 11/1964
Groschen Polka / I Love You, Good Bye
(with Greetje Kauffeld)
Columbia 22 979 6/1965
Milk perks up tired men / In Abyssinia you only need a sun hat Columbia 22 980 6/1965
A bar without beer / Who does not honor the penny Columbia 23 089 11/1965
It used to be different / a little blue Odeon 23 168 2/1966
I'm not going home on May 32 / today Columbia 23 238 7/1966
Copenhagen Serenade / I always only love you
(with Greetje Kauffeld)
Columbia 23 414 2/1967
Goodbye / kiss me once, kiss me twice Columbia 23 414 5/1967
The first person to speak to animals / like in a dream Columbia 23 643 11/1967
She can't be faithful / story Columbia 23 854 8/1968
Charlie Brown / Snoopy Columbia 29 808 1970
Put your little finger on luck / The point is as follows Columbia 29 957 1972
In the dark of night / Doberman Columbia 30 536 1974

Filmography (selection)

Radio plays

  • 1967: Claude Ollier : The Metamorphosis (piano player) - Director: Raoul Wolfgang Schnell ( SDR / WDR )
  • 1968: Ingo Golembiewski : Nur Momente (composition) - Director: Raoul Wolfgang Schnell (WDR)
  • 1968: Otto Grünmandl : Salzwege (piano player) ( SR )
  • 1970: Raoul Wolfgang Schnell: Schoolwork (composition, piano player and speaker) - Director: Raoul Wolfgang Schnell (WDR)


His numerous awards include:

  • 1936: State winner accordion in Hessen-Nassau
  • 1953: Jazz pianist No. 1 in Germany
  • 1964: Bavarian Order of Merit
  • 1971: Golden Camera for his television work (Paul's Party)
  • 1976: German Record Award
  • 1976: Hans Bredow Medal (for services to broadcasting)
  • 2003: Gold in the German Jazz Award (for the album My World Of Music )
  • 2003: Gold in the German Jazz Award (for the album Play It Again Paul )
  • 2002: German Jazz Trophy (for services to jazz music)
  • 2003: Piano player of the year - Bundesverband Klavier eV
  • 2003: Gold in the German Jazz Award (for the album Young at Heart )
  • 2003: Golden Europe (for his artistic life's work)
  • 2003: Quarterly Award of the German Record Critics (for the CD Young at Heart )
  • 2008: Certificate of Honor from the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik (for his life's work) and gold in the German Jazz Award (for the album As Time Goes By )
  • 2010: ECHO Jazz for his life's work as a pianist, conductor and composer (awarded on May 5, 2010 in Bochum)
  • 2013: Joachim Ernst Berendt Prize of Honor of the City of Baden-Baden (awarded on March 13, 2013 in Baden-Baden as part of the Mr. M's Jazz Club Festival)
  • 2013: Gold in the German Jazz Award (for the album The LA Session )


  • Paul Kuhn: Swinging years. The man at the piano tells his life story . Bastei Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1988, ISBN 3-404-61140-3 .
  • Nadja Mayer: The Paul Kuhn Story . Parthas, Berlin 2007, with a CD, ISBN 3-86601-510-0 .

Web links

Commons : Paul Kuhn  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b pianist Paul Kuhn has died. ( Memento from September 28, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) In: Bayerischer Rundfunk . 23rd September 2013.
  2. a b c d e Gunda Bartels : Paul Kuhn is 85: Very cool. In: Tagesspiegel . March 11, 2013, accessed September 24, 2013.
  3. Charts DE
  4. a b Obituary Paul Kuhn: Devoted to the show audience. In: The time . September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013
  5. ^ Propaganda in the own troops: Troop support in the Wehrmacht 1939–1945. Ferdinand Schöningh, 2005, p. 311 ( excerpt )
  6. a b c d Dieter Bartetzko : The German Glenn Miller. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  7. Piano chords like freshly cut diamond fragments.
  8. Paul Kuhn , Internationales Biographisches Archiv 50/2012 from December 11, 2012, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  9. Jazz legend Paul Kuhn has died. In: image . September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  10. The man at the piano. Internet Movie Database , accessed May 22, 2015 .
  11. Give me your heart. Film entry at Retrieved March 7, 2013 .
  12. Jazz legend Paul Kuhn opens Festival of German Films. Message on May 24, 2011, accessed March 7, 2013 .
  13. Give me your heart. Program entry at (No longer available online.) October 8, 2011, formerly in the original ; Retrieved March 7, 2013 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  14. Give me your heart. Program search at (7 results). March 2013, accessed March 7, 2013 .
  15. Paul Kuhn - The man at the piano. Program entry at February 14, 2013, accessed March 7, 2013 .