Kálmán, Emmerich

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KÁLMÁN, EMMERICH (Imre ; 1882–1953), composer. Born in Siófok, Hungary, Kálmán studied at the Budapest Academy with Hans Koessler, while also taking his law degree. Until 1908 he worked in a law office, acted as a music critic, and composed several serious works. The success of the cabaret songs which he had written under a pseudonym drew him to the field of operetta. The first of his 21 works in this genre was Tatárjárás (1909), produced in Vienna as Ein Herbstmanoever (1909) and in the same year in New York as The Gay Hussars. Kálmán settled in Vienna, where he remained until 1936. In 1938 he went to Switzerland, then to France, and in 1940 to the United States. Returning to Europe in 1949 he was feted in Paris and in major German-speaking cities. He returned briefly to New York where he finished his last operetta, Arizona Lady (1954). The most famous of Kálmán's operettas are Der Zigeunerprimas (1912); Die Bajadere (1921); Circus Princess (1926); and the two world-wide successes – Gypsy Princess (1915), produced in the U.S. as Riviera Girl, and The Countess Maritza (1924). The latter, as well as most of his other works, were based on the melodic idiom of urban Hungarian folk and entertainment music, including the gypsy element. Kálmán's operettas – orchestrated by himself – have been appreciated for their melodic richness, which ranges from sentimental pathos to dashing gaiety. Together with Franz Lehár, Leo *Fall, and Oskar *Straus, Kálmán represents the third and last phase of the European operetta. His son Charles (1929– ) was also a composer.


V. Kálmán, Gruess' mir die suessen, die reizenden Frauen. Mein Leben mit Emmerich Kalman (1966); mgg, incl. bibl.; Riemann-Gurlitt, incl. bibl.; Grove, Dict; Baker, Biog Dict, incl. bibl.

[Bathja Bayer]