Emmerich Kálmán

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kálmán, Emmerich


(also Imre Kálmán). Born Oct. 24, 1882, in Siofok; died Oct. 30, 1953, in Paris. Hungarian composer.

Kálmán studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest under J. Koessler. His first operetta, Autumn Manoeuvres (first staged in Budapest in 1908), played in many theaters in Europe and the USA. The success of the operettas Soldier on Leave (in its German variant entitled A Good Pal), The Gypsy Premier, and especially The Czardas Princess (Silva) brought kálmán fame as an outstanding master of the “Viennese operetta.” In a number of works he was not able to avoid a salon-type superficiality of plots and the banality of diverting comedy. Never the less, in the best of his 20 operettas (La Bayadere, Countess Maritza, The Circus Princess), which were marked by sharply delineated plot situations, well-developed musical dramaturgy, effective orchestration, and a combination of buffoonery with lyricism (for example, The Violet of Montmartre, 1930), kálmán departed from the canons and stereotypes of Viennese operetta. One of his innovations was the use of elements of Hungarian musical folklore and a democratization of the genre: the heroes of many of his operettas are simple people (peasants, poor actors, painters, and musicians), whom he contrasts with the world of the rich bourgeoisie. In 1938, after the seizure of Austria by Nazi Germany and the banning of performances of his works, kálmán emigrated to Switzerland. In 1940 he emigrated to the USA.


Iaron, G. “Imre Kal’man—master operett.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1954, no. 3.
Iaron, G. “Imre Kal’man.” Muzykal’naia zhizn’ 1962, no. 20.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.