Gloomy Sunday, by Rezső Seress

Gloomy Sunday, by Rezső Seress

(This article contains references to suicide)

Are you a singer looking for a hauntingly beautiful torch song with a rich history to add to your repertoire? Look no further than “Gloomy Sunday,” also known as Szomorú Vasárnap in Hungarian.

Originally composed by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress in 1933, the song’s original lyrics were titled “Vége a világnak” (The world is ending) and were about the despair caused by war. However, it was the later lyrics by poet László Jávor, titled Szomorú Vasárnap (Sad Sunday), that became more popular and enduring. Jávor’s lyrics tell the story of a person mourning the loss of their lover and the deep feelings of sadness and despair that follow. The melody is slow and melancholic, creating an atmosphere that is both eerie and beautiful.

But it’s not just the haunting melody and tragic lyrics that make “Gloomy Sunday” stand out in this history of music in the 20th century. The legends surrounding the song have captured the public’s imagination for decades. According to popular myth, the song is so powerful it drove a number of people to take their own lives, leading it to be known commonly as the “Hungarian Suicide Song.” The BBC even banned Billie Holiday’s version of the song from being broadcast during wartime, fearing it would be detrimental to morale. The ban was only lifted in 2002.

Despite the myth surrounding the song, it has become a favorite of many singers who appreciate its depth and emotional impact. Billie Holiday’s 1941 version of the song is widely considered one of the best, and it has influenced countless other artists who have covered the song over the years, including Ray Charles, Serge Gainsbourg, Marianne Faithful, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Conner, Sarah McLachlan and Björk.

As a singer, tackling “Gloomy Sunday” requires a great deal of emotional depth and control. The slow tempo and mournful melody can be challenging to deliver without losing the audience’s attention. But with the right focus on the lyrics and an understanding of the nuances of the melody and phrasing, you can create a powerful and moving performance.

In our selection, we offer two versions of the song: one in the original key with an added coda, which was likely added to soften the tragic sentiments of the work, and an alternative version presented in the key sung by the one and only Katalin Karády (and omiting the coda).

If you’re ready to take on one of the most powerful torch songs in history, add “Gloomy Sunday” to your repertoire and let the haunting melody and tragic lyrics capture the hearts of your audience, and don’t forget to show us if you happen to make a video of yourself performing this epic composition. TikTok and Instagram reels are available for duetting.

Other notable performances include this modern rendition by Hungarian singer Margit Bangó, who deploys the spine-tingling sound of traditional Hungarian instrument – the cimbalom – to accompany her heart rending performance.



Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach of
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thought
Of ever returning you,
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you?
Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday,
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all
Soon there’ll be candles
And prayers that are sad I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I’m glad to go
Death is no dream
For in death I’m caressing you
With the last breath of my soul
I’ll be blessing you
Gloomy Sunday

Some English versions add the following verse:

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart, dear
Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin’ you
How much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday


Szomorú vasárnap
száz fehér virággal
vártalak kedvesem
templomi imával.
Álmokat kergető
vasárnap délelőtt,
bánatom hintaja
nélküled visszajött.
Azóta szomorú
mindig a vasárnap,
könny csak az italom,
kenyerem a bánat.
Szomorú vasárnap.

Utolsó vasárnap
kedvesem gyere el,
pap is lesz, koporsó,
ravatal, gyászlepel.
Akkor miránk vár,
virág és koporsó.
Virágos fák alatt
utam az utolsó.
Nyitva lesz szemem, hogy
mégegyszer lássalak.
Ne félj a szememtől,
holtan is áldalak…
Utolsó vasárnap.

Sing it today

Gloomy Sunday
by Rezső Seress