Victor Magnussen: Born May 2 1953, Canada. Died March 16, 2013, USA.
Friends of singer-songwriter Victor Magnussen paid tribute to the Canadian expat who made Poland his home, at a memorial evening in Kraków.
The event, including songs and reminiscence, took place at the city’s Cafe Szafe, a popular expat hangout near Victor’s home in the city, on April 20. The café was also one of Victor’s favourite performance venues, and the place in which many Poles and expats from around the world first met him.
Friends spoke of Victor’s keen attention to detail – his striving for perfection in his performances and his unique engagement with his audiences. Not a man to suffer bad manners or fools without taking them to task, one speaker told how Victor had once stopped a concert to remonstrate with overly-noisy party-goers outside Café Szafe. It was not unusual for him to stop an individual song and start from scratch if he felt that he was not performing well, said another.
Victor’s dog Bernie was a fixture at his side, and often joined him on stage. At one concert, Bernie slipped outside to explore – and Victor promptly stopped his performance and set out to find him… joined by members of the audience.
All who remembered Victor described him as a unique character who shared and encouraged friendship amongst all he met. The evening included a performance of one of his best known songs, Runaway Train. A selection of Victor’s songs is available at his own website.
Victor died from a heart attack while ski-ing at the Squaw Valley resort, Lake Tahoe, California, en route to tour of South America. He was 59 years old.
His Facebook profile picture, reproduced on the front page of this article, was created as part of a photography project about the Felicjanek neighbourhood around Café Szafe. Contributing to the project in September 2012, Victor said: “I have never had a neighbourhood bar that I would go to and hang out. But my dog Bernie and I have now been a regular fixture for the past year
I first heard about Felicjanek when I was looking for a place to have a concert and someone told me about Massolit Books and Cafe Szafe. I came to Cafe Szafe and after some time I organised my first concert at Cafe Szafe last August 27. I also started to attend the Cafe on a regular basis and started to attend the monthly open mic nights. It was here that I first met Tomasz Zapala of [the band] Don’t Ask Smingus and began performing with him. Since then we have had two concerts at Szafe and hope to have many more.”
Friends and colleagues have left messages of condolence on Victor’s Facebook page. Anyone who knew him is invited to join them.
Pictures: Victor Magnussen in concert (above). Victor and Bernie, from the Felicjanek neighbourhood project Pink Plastic Bag (photographer – Analía Szuldman).