Benatzky, Ralph (actually, Rudolf Josef František)

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Benatzky, Ralph (actually, Rudolf Josef František)

Benatzky, Ralph (actually, Rudolf Josef František), Czech composer; b. Màhrisch-Budwitz, June 5, 1884; d. Zürich, Oct. 16, 1957. He studied in Vienna, in Prague with Veit and Klinger, and in Munich with Motti; he also took a Ph.D. in philology. After conducting at the Kleines Theater in Munich (1910–11), he went to Vienna as music director at the Kabarett Rideamus. He first gained notice as a composer for the theater with his operetta Der lachende Dreibund (Berlin, Oct. 31, 1913). His first notable success came with the operetta Liebe im Schnee (Vienna, Dec. 2, 1916), which was followed by the successful premieres of Yuschi tanzt (Vienna, April 3, 1920), Apachen (Vienna, Dec. 20, 1920), Pipsi (Vienna, Dec. 30, 1921), Ein Märchen aus Florenz (Vienna, Sept. 14, 1923), and Adieu Mimi (Vienna, June 9, 1926). From 1924 he also was active at the Grosses Schauspielhaus in Berlin, where he provided music for various productions, including the Johann Strauss pasticcio Casanova (Sept. 1, 1928) and Die drei Musketiere (Sept. 28, 1929). It was at that theater that he brought out his celebrated operetta Im weissen Rossi (Nov. 8, 1930), which was also made into a film in 1935. Among his other theater scores were Cocktail (Berlin, Dec. 15, 1930), Zirkus Aimée (Basel, March 5, 1932), Bezauberndes Fraulein (Vienna, May 24, 1933), Deux sous de fleurs (Paris, Oct. 6, 1933), Das kleine Café (Vienna, April 20, 1934), Axel an der Himmelstur (Vienna, Sept. 1, 1936), Pairserinnin (Vienna, May 7, 1937; rev. ver., Lucerne, Dec. 11, 1964), Majestat-privat (Vienna, Dec. 18, 1937), and Der Silberhof (Mainz, Nov. 4, 1941). During World War II, Benatzky lived in the U.S. After the War, he returned to Europe and finally settled in Switzerland.


F. Hennenberg, Es muss was Wunderbares sein—: R. B.: Zwischen “Weissem Rossi” und Hollywood (Vienna, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire