Personalities | Engelbert Humperdinck | Late Romantic | Classical

(Eng’-el-bârt Hoom’-per-dink) 1854–1921
German composer

Humperdinck studied in Cologne with Ferdinand Hiller and joined Wagner’s circle in Bayreuth. He assisted in the publication of Parsifal and was music tutor to Wagner’s son Siegfried, who later praised Hänsel und Gretel (1893) as ‘the most important opera since Parsifal’. Based on a tale by the brothers Grimm, the opera was composed while Humperdinck was professor and critic in Frankfurt. Its success was due to its refreshing melodic charm (the ‘Sleeping Song’ is a children’s favourite) set within an exciting Wagnerian style. Of five later operas, the best is Königskinder (‘The King’s Children’, 1910) also based on a fairy story; other works include a symphony, choral pieces and songs.

Recommended Recording:
Hansel und Gretel, soloists, Vienna PO (cond) Sir Georg Solti (Decca)

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