FRANZ LEHAR (1870 – 1948)
Franz Lehár´s (1870 – 1948), operettas and waltzes are as engaging as are those of the Strauss family. Yet, the composer of The Merry Widow and Wiener Frauen (Viennese Women) was a contemporary of The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
During his 35 years career as composer and conductor Franz Lehár wrote nearly 40 operettas. Hungarian born but of German ethnicity Lehár’s most enduring success was The Merry Widow. The operetta first played at Theater-an-der-Wien in 1905 where it played 5,000 performances. The Merry Widow was playing simultaneously in five different languages in five different theatres in Buenos Aires alone.
Lehár’s music was enjoyed by Adolf Hitler. The German President-Chancellor awarded the composer the distinguished Goethe Medal and it mattered not that Lehár had a Jewish wife. Most find his Gold and Silver Waltz irresistible and his You Are My Heart’s Delight brings audiences to their feet.
In July 2004 the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra held the season´s grand finale at Berlin´s Waldbuhne. The open-air stadium was built originally by Hitler´s Germany to bring quality music to the people. On this occasion, Rolando Villazon was joined by Placido Domingo and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko. Their delivery of You Are My Heart’s Delight (Dein ist mein ganzes Herz) was electrifying. Is it possible that today´s ´music´ will be bringing rapturous applause from vast audiences in 90-years’ time? It is unlikely.