Who is Danubius?
We are all accomplished musicians living in the San Francisco Bay area, who sing and play a variety of Western and Eastern European musical instruments.
Three of us have Hungarian roots, several of us are Conservatory-trained, some of us have done Hungarian folk dance, and yes dahling (as Zsa Zsa Gabor would say) the Danube River inspired our name! We play music from countries which border the Danube, and also other countries in that general region.
Nathan Ladyzhensky- violin, mandolin, dumbek, guitar, prim
Nathan describes himself as a recovering classical musician. He was a professional musician for many years, playing viola with the San Francisco Opera and Symphony, and performing with numerous Bay Area chamber music groups.
Growing up in Odessa, a city on the Black Sea in the Ukraine, Nathan has always loved the sounds of the Gypsy (Roma), Romanian, and Hungarian music. After all, the Danube does fall into the Black Sea.
After leaving the demands of a professional career, he now plays a variety of styles of music on a range of different instruments, does arranging, composing, and generally enjoys having a good time.
Jutka Mándoki - vocals, kontra, koboz, accordion, keyboard, guitar, bass, dumbek, ütögardon
Jutka was born in Budapest and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area's East Bay. She is trained and credentialed in classical piano performance (MM in Music) and was introduced to Eastern European music via dance.
Jutka speaks Hungarian fluently, and sings in Hungarian and Romanian. She has studied Eastern European vocal styling with members of Kitka. You may also remember her as the former co-owner of The Hungarian Sausage Factory and Bistro in San Francisco.
Barbara Deutsch - clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, fluier, vocals
Trained in classical clarinet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Barbara switched gears and received her BA in Ethnomusicology from UCLA.
Over the years she's studied with renowned clarinet teachers Ivo Papasov, Sami Zakirovski, Selim Seslar, Sergiu Balutel, and Ismail Lumanovski. With various folk dance ensembles, Barbara has toured the US and Europe, and has performed as a concert hall soloist.
As clarinetist for Kárpátok, a Hungarian dance troupe, Barbara started (and still does) play soprano sax as a modern substitute for tárogató. She also plays klarino, Greek clarinet. She was Music Director of Westwind International Folk Ensemble from 2002 until it ended in 2011, and also serves as Danubius' Manager.
Douglas Mandell - string bass, acoustic guitar, prim, cornet, alto horn, dumbek, drum kit, vocals
Douglas studied music from his early youth through college. As his parents were teachers in the local folk dance community, he grew up listening to Eastern
European folk music, which he is now at home with.
More recently, Douglas has played bass with house bands at the San Francisco Tamburitza and Kolo Festivals, and at the Mendocino Folklore Camp. He has been the tenor section leader, soloist and instrumentalist at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belevedere for many years, and has been performing in light opera productions with Lamplighters Music Theater, as well as playing electric bass and singing in a rock band.
Roman Titcu is a vituoso player of the cimbalom, or "tsambal" (a large Hungarian/Romanian hammered dulcimer, played with padded sticks). He is also a composer, conductor and arranger.
Born in Moldova, his musical education began at age ten. At sixteen he started to play professionally, performing on concert stages and in cabarets. At age 17 he entered Music College in Chisinau, Moldova. While at Music College, he founded and directed the ensemble, "Doina Besarabia". In 1994 he entered Chisinau's Music Conservatory, where he majored in tsambal, conducting, and composition. While a student there, he performed on many recordings, including two singles, "Roma Babalile" and "Cafe Concert". From 1994 to 1997 Roman conducted the ensemble, "Oleandra". Also in 1994, he became principal arranger for the ensemble, "Roma", with which he toured in Europe and other parts of the world. Roman left "Roma" after their tour to Canada, and is now living in the San Francisco Bay area.
Roman has performed various roles with Danubius over the years, as a fellow musician, as guest artist, and as Music Director.
June 10, 1950 - September 1, 2010
David Skuse was the Director and Founder of Danubius.
He was a devoted violinist and multi-instrumentalist, having a presence in the Eastern European music and dance worlds from the '60s until the very end of his life.
Sadly, after a 2-year illness, David lost his battle with brain cancer.
Danubius in 2009
Throughout his life, David was continually involved with music or dance or both. Discovering Hungarian/Romanian/Gypsy violin while in college, it became his passion. David went to live in Hungary for a number of years, where he studied Hungarian language, folk music, and dance. He also spent time in Transylvania and Romania, and loved all these cultures. Over the years he performed with many groups, including The Silver String Macedonian Band, The Balkanizers, Westwind International Folk Ensemble, and several groups in Hungary. He also helped to start several orchestras, including the renowned Klezmorim. David preferred playing with small ensembles like Danubius because everyone is important.
Danubius was David's final project. Given the esoteric nature of the Danubius repertoire--music from countries along the Danube River--Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria, little published music was available. David was instrumental in transcribing the notes from original recordings to create a large collection of sheet music. As Music Director, he also chose most of the repertoire and arranged the music for the group. David played his violin with great passion and with authentic style, true to the region of the music. Besides violin, David also played other instruments, including viola, gadulka, prim, dumbek, and even string bass on occasion.
David and Jutka were the Dynamic Duo, Hungarian style. The two of them often conversed in Hungarian and enjoyed singing Hungarian and Romanian songs together. They delighted audiences performing Hungarian couple dances as part of Danubius performances, but David stole the show with his boot-slapping solo men's dances from Transylvania.
David was a remarkable man with an amazing assortment of knowledge, skills and interests. We miss him.
Here's an amusing article about Danubius from years back (with a great photo of David) from the San Francisco Bay Guardian
SF Bay Guardian on Danubius 12-11-02