Personalities | Franz Lehár | Turn of the Century | Opera

1870–1948, Austro–Hungarian

Lehár’s father worked as a bandmaster as well as composing dances and marches. Lehár himself played in the theatre orchestra at Barmen-Elberfeld before playing in a band for his military service. He left the military having arrived in Vienna, where he took up a position as conductor at the Theater an der Wien. Lehár’s youth and early adult life had given him great exposure to lighter music and his inventive, charming and witty music is abundantly present in his first major successes, Wiener Frauen (1902) and Der Rastelbinder (1902). In 1905, Die lustige Witwe (‘The Merry Widow’) was premiered in Vienna to an extraordinary reception. The work is remarkable for its energy and inventiveness, its subtlety in character portrayal and its imaginative orchestration. The premiere heralded a new dawn for operetta, paving the way for other composers and whetting the public appetite.

Lehár was unwilling to remain static and in his ensuing work, he pushed back the barriers of operetta in terms of both style and subject matter. A vital partnership developed with Richard Tauber during the 1920s, for whom Lehár wrote many of his leading roles. So strong was their association that the particular style of vocal writing used for the tenor became known as the Tauber-Lied. Lehár also spent time writing original film music and making versions of his operettas for film. Perhaps his most satisfying stage work after Die lustige Witwe is Giuditta (1934) in which the seriousness of the subject and its treatment take operetta very close to opera. Lehár marked himself apart from his contemporaries by completing his own orchestrations, often showing his interest in Puccini and Strauss as well as the French Impressionists.

Introduction | Turn of the Century | Opera
Major Operas | Die lustige Witwe by Franz Lehár | Turn of the Century
Personalities | Ruggero Leoncavallo | Turn of the Century | Opera
Techniques | Operetta | Turn of the Century | Opera
Techniques | Symbolism or Impressionism? | Turn of the Century | Opera


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.