Lehár, Franz

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Lehár, Franz

(fränts lĕ`här), 1870–1948, Hungarian composer of operettas. After completing studies at the Prague Conservatory (1882–88), he began a career as a conductor of military bands and settled in Vienna. There, following the success of his first operetta, Wiener Frauen (1902), he devoted himself to composition. He endowed such works as Der Graf von Luxemburg (1909) and Zigeunerliebe (1910) with his engaging melodies, capturing the frivolous gaiety that pervaded Viennese life early in the century. Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow, 1905), his outstanding work, had international success.

Lehár, Franz


Born April 30,1870, in Komárom, Hungary; died Oct. 24, 1948, in Bad Ischl, Austria. Hungarian composer and conductor.

Lehár studied music with his musician father and at the age of 12 entered the Prague Conservatory (1882–88). In 1888 he began working as a violinist and conductor of military bands in various towns of Austria-Hungary; he moved to Vienna the following year. In 1902 he became second conductor of the Theater an der Wien.

Lehár, the greatest representative of the new Viennese operetta, composed more than 30 works. The most famous are The Merry Widow (1905), The Count of Luxembourg (1909), Gypsy Love (1910), Eva (1911), Where the Lark Sings (1918), and The Yellow Jacket (1923). His operettas combine sentimental melodrama, music-hall turns, and buffoonery with intense drama; however, their social conflict (often a misalliance) is not marked by profundity. Lehár’s best works use Hungarian, Slavic, and Rumanian folk melodies and dance rhythms (particularly the waltz) and are effectively orchestrated; he stressed the importance of the orchestra, into which he had introduced national folk instruments.


Peteani, M. Franz Lehár: Seine Musik, sein Leben. Vienna-London, 1950.
Czech, St. Schön ist die Welt: Franz Lehárs Leben und Werk Berlin, 1957.