Louis G. Ganne and Marche Lorraine


Louis Gustave Gaston Ganne (April 5, 1862 –July 13/14, 1923) was a French conductor and composer of operas, operettas, ballets, and marches.  Ganne was born April 5, 1862, at Buxières-les-Mines (Allier), in the Auvergne region of France and grew-up in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the suburbs of Paris. He studied under César Franck and Jules Massenet at the Conservatoire de Paris. He conducted at the Nouveau Théâtre de la Rue Blanche and at the Folies-Bergère, and later led a concert series at the Monte Carlo Casino.  With Ophélia in 1887, he began composing operas and operettas.

Ganne’s most successful light opera is the circus musical Les saltimbanques (The Acrobats), from 1899.   He is most recognized today for his popular patriotic marches, such as Le père la victoire and La marche Lorraine.  Also, he composed for the ballet, including the 1902 ballet “In Japan.”  He is less well-known outside his native France, and his many operettas are now rarely performed. His last completed work was La Belle de Paris, an opera in 2 acts from 1922.  He died at Paris, France, on July 13 or 14, 1923.

My collection includes the following works by Louis Gustave Gaston Ganne:

March Lorraine.

Father of Victory.

Jacob Gade and Jalousie


Jacob Thune Hansen Gade November 29, 1879 – February 20, 1963) was a Danish violinist and composer, mostly of orchestral popular music, who is remembered today for a single tune, the familiar “Jalousie”, also known as Jalousie ‘Tango Tzigane’ and Tango Jalousie.  Gade was born in Vejle, Denmark, on November 29, 1879.  He belonged to a family of musicians. His grandfather and his father used to go around the nearby villages to play at all kinds of parties. And it was natural that, since early age, he as well began to play and was another member of the musical group.  He was 9 when he made his debut as trumpeter. He might have been an attraction because only a year later he was invited to Copenhagen to become a soloist in the orchestra of the Tivoli Garden, a famous amusement park. It was only at age 12 when he began to study violin, first with his father and later with teachers of greater knowledge. Soon he evidenced his ambition, he wanted to be recognized and for that he decided to move to the capital.

Gade began to compose country music, polkas and similar rhythms. With a scarce capital he dreamed of being an orchestra conductor, and of writing waltzes.  He started to work at small cafeterias and, about two years later, when he was only 18, he began to be connected with people who summoned him to play at an operetta in Frederiksberg, the night center of entertainment at that time.  In 1900, for the first time a toast song of his was published titled “Der er sollys i modne druer” (The sunshine on the ripe grapes), with lyrics by Lorry Feilberg. It turned out a very popular song and, among others, it was sung by Elna From, a theater actress.  He joined several orchestras up to 1903 when he formed his own.  In 1908 at Christiania, then capital of Norway, he married an actress, Mimi Mikkelsen, with whom he lived until she died in 1951.

In 1909, the recognition that Gade had achieved by his work caused him to be hired by the famous Hotel Bristol, located in front of the main plaza of Copenhagen. In order enhance his musical knowledge he turned to maestro Max Schlüler, an important concert player. Gade was already 30 and was too old to be accepted in the Royal Conservatory of Danish Music or become a concert instrumentalist of classical music.   In 1914 he began to lead orchestras that played at theaters and as well at the most important cinema theaters as accompaniment to silent films. At the same time he performed a series of concerts as soloist including a Paganini’s composition. As composer he was in a period when he wrote waltzes with a title in French. He adopted several pseudonyms like Maurice Ribot, Leon Bonnard, James Wellington, Fred Marshall and Jascha Tjenko. The principal paper of the city mentioned him as the king of waltz.

In 1919 Gade traveled to New York, joined orchestras that played at cinema theaters, and put together orchestras that included up to 80 members and, soon he was chosen in a contest to join the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York. For two years he was devoted to playing only classical music.  He returned to his country to conduct the orchestra of the Palads Cinema theater and to compose and arrange music to be played during the projection of movies. His tzigane tango “Jalousie” was composed at that time and became a worldwide hit.  Written when Gade was leader of the orchestra of the Palads Cinema and performed for the first time on Monday, September 14, 1925, on the premiere of the silent era blockbuster American movie Don Q. Son of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, it placed Denmark in the world map of music, and was an instant international hit.  It is said that the title was inspired when Gade was on leave in Christiania, near a windmill far from the city, and read in a paper that a man had murdered his wife because of jealousy.

Gade’s golden period lasted until 1929 when sound films arrived. But it scarcely affected him. In 1931 he opened the National Scala theater, and there he continued to play entertainment music. His career as orchestra leader and player before public audiences ended by his own decision.  The royalties allowed Gade to devote himself to composition full-time for the rest of his life. After “Jalousie” he devoted solely to musical composition, retired, and lived in a country house. There, among others, were born “Rhapsodietta” and another tango “Romanesca” which were published in Copenhagen and in Paris. He returned to the United States in 1939 where someone offered to publish his whole output.  On April 8, 1940 he returned to his country. The following day the Nazis invaded Denmark. He endured it by settling on the Fiskerleje Island where he continued composing. There a successful waltz was born named “Capricious,” along with other tangos such as “El matador,” “Tango charmeuse,” “Lille Mary Anne,” “Laila,” and “Tango Glamour.”

Arthur Fiedler made the first recording of “Jalousie” with the Boston Pops in 1935, further increasing Gade’s income.  When talkies were introduced it was featured in numerous films. When the composer drew up his will in 1956, he included his wish that all his estate and future royalties were granted to a foundation that had to be created under his name to sponsor young talented musicians. The royalties now fund a foundation for young musicians. As a symphony composer Gade did not fare as well. In an interview two years before his death, Fiedler recalled that Gade came especially to Boston to thank him for recording “Jalousie.”  Gade also presented Fiedler with a score of a symphony which Fiedler recalled as “one of the worst pieces of music I ever looked at.”  Gade died on February 20, 1963, at Assens, Denmark.  In 1998 Dacapo Recordings published a record with a part of his works—some unpublished—, performed by the Odense Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Mathias Aeschbacher featuring the soloist Bjarne Hansen on violin. Critics commented, “It is incredible that an unknown and so good music has been displaced because of the popularity of ‘Jealousy.’”

The following work by Jacob Gade is contained in my collection:

Jalousie (Tango).

Milt Franklyn and “What’s Opera, Doc?”


Milton J. “Milt” Franklyn (September 16, 1897 – April 24, 1962) was a musical composer and arranger who worked on the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated cartoons.   Franklyn was born on September 16, 1897, in New York City, NY, but his family moved from New York to Salt Lake City when he was age three, where he went to high school and finished one year at the University of Utah. He was the state junior tennis champion in Utah for six years. The next two years were spent at the University of California, Berkeley, and then he began a term at Pennsylvania University when he was called to service in World War One. Franklyn did not serve overseas; he trained as a naval officer for three months and then the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. He returned to Berkeley to finish his education.

As Franklyn could play a number of instruments, he joined a band in San Francisco and for the next few years played at the Palace and St. Francis hotels. He began his own nine-piece orchestra, known at various times as the Peninsula Band, the Super Soloists, and the Merrimakers, and appeared in San Mateo (1926 to June 1927), where he also owned a music store, and San Jose (1928 to January 1929), where he was Master of Ceremonies and wrote revues for the California Theatre before moving on to Fresno and Oakland. For two years he was emcee with Fanchon and Marco at Fox West Coast in San Diego; musical director and emcee with Paramount Publix Corporation, travelling to Seattle, Denver, Houston and Toledo; and finally worked on the Loew’s circuit in Providence, Rhode Island, and New York City from 1933 to 1935. Franklyn quit vaudeville to go to Hollywood in 1935 and spent a year doing occasional work.

In early 1936, Franklyn joined Warner Bros. as music arranger to Carl Stalling, becoming music director in 1953. The first cartoon with Franklyn credited as a composer was Bugs and Thugs, released in 1954, though Franklyn estimated at the time his 599th cartoon for Warners was Past Perfumance. Franklyn, who joined ASCAP in 1954, always composed his scores at home early in the morning; he only went to the studio to watch the 30-piece Warner Bros. Orchestra record the music or to view the finished cartoon. Among the songs Franklyn is said to have composed with director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese is The Michigan Rag for the 1955 cartoon One Froggy Evening, featuring Michigan J. Frog. However, the ASCAP database lists only Maltese as the composer. He became the sole composer in 1958 upon Stalling’s retirement.

Franklyn, who was a member of the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, died of a heart attack on April 24, 1962, at Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA. At the time of his death, Franklyn was composing the score for a Tweety cartoon, The Jet Cage. The first two minutes of the cartoon were scored by Franklyn, the rest by William Lava, who had been working on the Warner Bros. main lot and replaced him as musical director. The Jet Cage opening credits lists Franklyn and not Lava, while the ASCAP database credits Franklyn with composing the opening title, with no mention of Lava, but a change in composing style in the cartoon is noticeable. After his death, Franklyn’s music also appeared in Bugs Bunny on Broadway.

My collection includes the following works by Milt Franklyn:

Baton Bunny, after Franz von Suppe

High Note, after Johann Strauss

This Is a Life?

What’s Opera, Doc?, after Richard Wagner

George Forrest and Kismet


George Forrest, born George Forrest Chichester, Jr., (July 31, 1915 – October 10, 1999), also known professionally at times as Chet Forrest, was a writer of music and lyrics for musical theatre best known for the show Kismet, adapted from the works of Alexander Borodin.  Forrest was born on July 31, 1915, in Brooklyn, New York.  Throughout his career he worked exclusively with the composer-lyricist Robert Wright. The pair had an affinity for adapting classical music themes and adding lyrics to these themes for Hollywood and the Broadway musical stage. Wright said that the music was usually a 50-50 “collaboration” between Wright and Forrest. While both men were credited equally as composer-lyricists, it was Mr. Forrest who worked with the music.

Forrest created several works with Wright that were commissioned by impresario Edwin Lester for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera (LACLO), beginning with Song of Norway in 1944, adapting the music of Edvard Grieg.  Others include Gypsy Lady (Romany Love) in 1947, using the music of Victor Herbert; Magdalena in 1948, using the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos, working directly with the composer;  and their adaptation of The Great Waltz in 1949, adapting the music of Johann Strauss.  Kismet came along in 1953.  The LACLO then exported most of these productions to Broadway. Forrest and Wright won a Tony Award for their work on Kismet and in 1995 they were awarded the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers Award. Hit songs of the day include “Strange Music” from Song of Norway; and “Stranger in Paradise”, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” and “And This Is My Beloved” from Kismet.  Forrest died on October 10, 1999, aged 84, at Miami, Florida.

The following work by George Forrest is contained in my collection:

Kismet with music adapted from the themes of Alexander Borodin (1953): Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1955).

Research Revelations about Homeschooling

Research Revelations about Homeschooling
by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., National Home Education Research
in Crosswalk.com Homeschool News (Thursday, October 20, 2011)

Parent-led home-based education continued to be common, if not the norm, for most of the time for most children’s lives through the nineteenth century. Things changed quickly, however, during the late 1800s and into the twentieth century. Homeschooling was nearly nonexistent, perhaps only 13,000 schoolchildren in the United States by the 1970s.1 Then a stunning change began around the early 1980s such that just over 2 million students in grades K to 12 were estimated to be homeschooled in the United States during the spring of 2010.2

Much of public opinion is very positive toward this private educational practice. However, genuinely curious people and ideological skeptics and opponents of homeschooling continue to ask questions about home-based education. Research continues to answer some of these basic questions.

Read more:

Click to access Research_Revelations.pdf

Old Elm Grove School, Brookes Park, Hazelwood, MO

Old Elm Grove School or Little Red Schoolhouse

Brookes Park

Brookes Drive

Hazelwood, MO 63042

Brookes Park in Hazelwood, MO, has 3.4 acres of parkland, historical buildings, playground, picnic sites, and a pavilion. Hazelwood has several Historic Landmarks located within its boundaries. Some of them have been relocated to Brookes Park. The Old Elm Grove School, also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse, is one of those relocated. It was built around 1852 and is said to be the earliest school building in the county. The red brick of the one room school were used in an unusual fashion in that the brick faces are turned toward the inside. The school closed in 1952.  Other landmarks in Brookes Park include the Stuart-Utz-Teson House, a two-story, dog-trot style log home built in 1824; the Knobbe House built in 1870 and located on the site of the Village Square Shopping Center; and the St. Cin House, built in the 1850’s with bricks made on St. Charles Rock Road.


http://aboutstlouis.com/local/communities/hazelwood-missourielm grove brookes-park-little-red-schoolhouse

Giacomo Fogliano and L’amor donna ch’io te porto


Giacomo Fogliano (1468 –April 10, 1548) was an Italian composer, organist, harpsichordist, and music teacher of the Renaissance, active mainly in Modena in northern Italy, who composed frottole, the popular vocal form ancestral to the madrigal, and later in his career also wrote madrigals themselves, as well as some sacred music and a few instrumental compositions.  Fogliano was born in 1468 at Modena, Italy, where he evidently spent most of his career.  He was the older brother of Lodovico Fogliano (c. 1475 – 1542), also a composer who was better known as a theorist. Details of Giacomo’s life are sketchy, but most of his years of employment and at least one of his journeys are known. Early in his life he was praised for his mastery of various instruments, particularly the organ and the harpsichord, and in 1479 he became organist at Modena Cathedral – an unusual achievement for a musician of 11.  The records of the cathedral list him as maestro di cappella (singing master) also starting in that year, ending in 1497, at which time he vanished from the record, reappearing again in 1504, from which year he held the dual post of organist and maestro di cappella until his death in 1548.

For the period between 1497 and 1504 Fogliano may have been in Siena; a reference to a similarly named individual in the records Siena city archives from 1498 has been tentatively identified as the Fogliano. His first published composition, a frottola in one of Ottaviano Petrucci’s earliest prints in Venice, dates from 1502. Among his duties at Modena was teaching, and from 1512 to 1514 he instructed Giulio Segni on organ and harpsichord. Late in his career, in 1543, he went to Parma to investigate the organ they had installed there. The cathedral in Modena contains a plaque in his honor.  Modena at this time was part of the domain of the House of Este, at that time centered in Ferrara. While the town was not a major center of music-making, as it lacked a local aristocratic court, it still had a substantial cathedral which kept an up-to-date repertory of polyphonic music. Fogliano was maestro di cappella at this institution during the period of its collection, and also during the time when Cardinal Giovanni Morone, one of the principal reformers of the Council of Trent, began the process of simplification of polyphony in order to make the text understandable to listeners. Most of Fogliano’s sacred music predates this time.

Of Fogliano’s music, three motets, two laude, 13 frottolas (one of which is attributed in one source to Bartolomeo Tromboncino), 29 madrigals, and four keyboard ricercars have survived. That one of the frottolas (Segue cuor e non restare) was published by Petrucci only one year after the invention of music printing shows the esteem in which it was held, at least by that Venetian printer.  Two of the other frottolas published by Petrucci as anonymous have since been attributed to Fogliano.  Most of his frottolas were probably composed around 1500, which was around the peak time of production of that popular musical form. Like other frottolas, his were for four voices, using a simple homophonic texture, with the melody in the topmost voice. The two inner voices were usually filler and lacking in melodic interest, while the highest and lowest voices frequently moved in parallel tenths.

Fogliano began to write madrigals sometime in the mid-1530s, although dates of the individual works cannot be determined precisely. He published his one collection of madrigals, for five voices, in 1547. Stylistically many of these madrigals are like the frottolas he had written forty years before; a few others use a polyphonic style akin to the motet. While most of his madrigals are for five voices, most published in his one book, he wrote several for three voices.  At least one of his madrigals appears in a Roman print by Andrea Antico dated 1537, an anthology of madrigals for three voices which includes works by Jacques Arcadelt and Costanzo Festa. One or two of the madrigals without attribution in the same collection may be by Fogliano as well.

Fogliano evidently wrote his motets and laude in the early 16th century, probably intending them to be performed by the singers at the cathedral. They are relatively simple and uncluttered in texture compared to similar works of the time from other musical centers, and are singable by amateurs or lightly trained musicians. As the singers in the provincial establishment at Modena were unlikely to have attained the levels of virtuosity found in places such as Ferrara and Venice, these pieces were well suited for this choir.  The keyboard ricercares, composed in the 1520s or 1530s and among the earliest examples of the form, are contrapuntal, in the manner of contemporary vocal music, but with shorter points of imitation. They include occasional ostinatos and scalewise flourishes, foreshadowing developments later in the century. Four of these pieces have survived, and were published in the 1940s in I classici musicali italiani (Milan).  Fogliano died in Modena on April 10, 1548.

My collection includes the following work by Giacome Fogliano:

L’amor donna ch’io te porto.

Henry Fillmore and his marches


James Henry Fillmore Jr., known as Henry (December 3, 1881 – December 7, 1956) was an American musician, composer, publisher, and bandleader, best known for his many marches and screamers.  Fillmore was born into a family of composers and publishers of religious music on December 3, 1881, in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the eldest of five children. In his youth he mastered piano, guitar, violin, flute, and slide trombone. He kept his trombone activities a secret at first, as his circumspect religious father James Henry Fillmore (1849–1936)—a composer of gospel songs, often in collaboration with Jessie Brown Pounds—believed it an uncouth and sinful instrument. Henry’s mother secretly bought a used trombone for him and obscured, from Henry’s father, the son’s learning to play the instrument.  Henry, whose uncle Frederick Augustus Fillmore (1856–1925) was also a tune-composer for gospel songs, was a singer for his church as a boy.

However, a somewhat incorrigible youth, the young Fillmore was bored with church music. He preferred more exciting music such as that used in circuses. In fact, he ran off with circuses at least three times. This caused no small amount of consternation in the family, which had a dignified English-American bearing (he was a second cousin, twice removed, of President Millard B. Fillmore), so he received much of his education in a military school.  He began composing at 18, with his first published march “Hingham”, named after a line of brass instruments.  Graduating from the Miami Military Institute in 1901, Fillmore entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.  Frustrated at being unable to influence the Fillmore Brothers to branch into the publication of band music, he left home after graduating, married his secret sweetheart Mabel May Jones, an exotic vaudeville dancer, in Saint Louis, MO, and joined the Lemon Brothers circus as a trombone player. He traveled the United States as a circus bandmaster with his wife for one season.

In the 1920s Fillmore was back in Cincinnati and the family publishing company, but it was several years before they accepted Mabel.  Gradually, Henry persuaded his father and uncles to publish more band music. The firm eventually became a leading band house, primarily because the music of Henry Fillmore and his seven aliases had become very popular. Another factor was his expertise as an arranger and editor.  Meanwhile, he was heavily involved with bands in the Cincinnati area. Under his leadership, the Syrian Temple Shriners Band became America’s finest fraternal band. Industrialist Powell Crosley enticed him to organize a professional band, and it, too, achieved widespread fame through broadcasts over the powerful radio station WLW. One novel feature of the programs was Henry’s exceptional dog, Mike the “radio hound,” who barked at predetermined spots in the music.

As Henry’s composing career flourished, rivals claimed his success was because of his name, not his music’s merit. To silence them, he began publishing under pseudonyms, including the humourous “Gus Beans.”  Henry’s music was now being played by bands throughout North America and abroad, and his intense schedule as composer, arranger, music editor, and conductor began to take its toll. In his late fifties, he developed a serious heart problem. Doctors told him his life expectancy would be less than one year unless he retired. They also suggested that he move to a warmer climate.  So, in 1938 Fillmore retired to Miami, Florida. He went on, however, to prove the physicians wrong, spending much of his time and energy with area schools and the University of Miami music department.  Fillmore kept an active schedule rehearsing high school bands in Florida and composing marches. Henry Fillmore Band Hall, the rehearsal hall for many of the University of Miami’s performing groups, acquired its name as a tribute to Fillmore’s work in the band genre. His march Orange Bowl was written for Miami’s Band of the Hour. Uncle Henry, as Fillmore was affectionately known to the members of the Band of the Hour, also wrote the University of Miami’s current official fight song – “Miami U How-De-Doo.”  His arrangement of the ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is the traditional arrangement performed by the Florida State University Marching Chiefs. His march Men of Florida was composed for the bands at the University of Florida.

Fillmore wrote over 250 pieces and arranged orchestrations for hundreds more. He published under a variety of pseudonyms, including Gus Beans, Harold Bennett, Ray Hall, Harry Hartley, Al Hayes, and Henrietta Moore. Only the name Will Huff caused any issues, as another Will Huff composed marches and resided in Fillmore’s state.  While best known for march music and screamers, he also wrote waltzes, foxtrots, hymns, novelty numbers, and overtures.  In addition, Fillmore gained fame as the “Father of the Trombone Smear,” writing a series of 15 novelty tunes featuring trombone smears called “The Trombone Family.”  A number of these have a strong ragtime influence. The tunes have subtitles printed on the parts, some of which reflect social and racial realities of the time.   He was given an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Miami in 1956 in recognition of his career. Fillmore lived out the rest of his days in South Florida. Perhaps no other individual has had his level of influence on the music of the private University of Miami and the public University of Florida and Florida State University.  He died peacefully in his sleep on December 7, 1956.

The following works by Henry Fillmore are contained in my collection:

Americans We.

The Circus Bee.

The Footlifter.

His Excellency (March).

The Klaxon.

Men of Ohio.

Rolling Thunder.

Orion Farrar and Bombasto March


Orion R. Farrar (April 15, 1866-c. 1929) was an American marching band director and composer.  Farrar was born on April 15, 1866, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of an English shoemaker named John Farrat and an Indiana boots and shoes shopkeeper named Amanda Wilson.  Around 1880, his family moved to Gosport, Indiana, and shortly after to Warren, Ohio. At the age of 19, Farrar enrolled in the famous Dana Musical Institute in Warren, studying theory, composition, and cornet playing. Following graduation, he taught brass instruments and conducted the Institute band for 7 years.  In 1892 at Onarga, Illinois, he married music teacher Sarah G. (Hannah?) Kennedy.   He became a member of Old Erie Masonic Lodge No 3 in 1894 and was active until 1904, when he was expelled for non-payment of dues.

Farrar resigned from Dana in 1896 to organize the Indiana State Band at Logansport, which he led for two years. He then returned to Ohio to form the Ohio State Band (unrelated to Ohio State University) in Warren. He moved to Youngstown, Ohio in 1899, where he led the Youngstown Military Band and in 1903 the Mahoning Orchestra.  As a march composer, Farrar is most remembered for Bombasto, Indiana State Band, Hi Henry’s Triumphal, and The Telegram marches. Bombasto  (Carl Fischer Music 1895) found an enduring place in the circus band repertoire, as well as in the libraries of municipal bands throughout America.  In 1904 he abandoned music and became insurance agent for the Youngstown Dollar Bank.  In 1905 he was offered the position of bandmaster of the New Merchants Municipal Band in Lima, Ohio, but rejected it because he already had a high position as agent in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan for Reliance Life Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA.

Farrar did, however, conduct the Merchants Band at Faurot Opera House Lima, on Dec. 30, 1905, which was his very last known musical activity.  In 1912 and 1913 he was president of the Columbus Securities Co. in Indianapolis while residing in New York City, NY.  In 1915 he founded Midland Underwriters Association insurance brokerage in Albert Lea, Minnesota, where he also took residence.  The final years of Farrar’s life remain a mystery.  He was listed on the 1920 census in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife Hannah who was born in Ohio c. 1878.  Some believe that he died by 1919 because in 1920 his wife settled as widowed music teacher in Long Beach, California.  Others say that he was purported to have died in California in c. 1925-1929, but this is undocumented.

My collection includes the following work by Orion Farrar:

Bombasto March.

Ferenc Erkel and the National Anthem of Hungary


Ferenc Erkel (November 7, 1810 – June 15, 1893) was a Hungarian composer, conductor, and pianist, who was the father of Hungarian national grand opera in the 19th century, written mainly on historical themes, which are still often performed in Hungary, and also composed the music of “Hymnusz,” the national anthem of Hungary, which was adopted in 1844. Erkel was born on November 7, 1810, in Gyula, Hungary, to a Danube Swabian family, a son of Joseph Erkel who was a musician. His mother was the Hungarian Klára Ruttkay. Erkel’s family was of German descent but regarded itself as Hungarian and lived in Pozsony (now Bratislava, Slovakia). His ancestors included many musicians and music teachers. Erkel first studied music with his father, and then from 1822 to 1825 he studied with composer Henrik Klein in Pozsony. From 1828 to 1834 he lived in Kolozsvár (now Cluj, Romania), and in 1835 he moved to Pest. In 1835 he was the conductor at the National Stage at the Buda Castle Theatre, and in 1836–37 he led the German Theatre of Pest. Until 1841 he performed regularly as a soloist and accompanying pianist.  In 1839, he married Adél Adlers.

In 1838 Erkel became the first conductor of the newly opened Hungarian Theatre of Pest (from 1840 the National Theatre). There he worked to develop Hungarian-language operatic performance with the intention of creating an opera company capable of competing with the German Theatre of Pest. In addition to staging works by Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, and Carl Maria von Weber, he revived József Ruzitska’s opera Béla futása (“Béla’s Flight”), which in 1822 had been the first Hungarian opera.    After this production proved to be a failure, he began to write his own operas, synthesizing western European elements with Hungarian themes. His first original works were Bátori Mária (1840) and Hunyadi László (1844), both with librettos by Béni Egressy. Parts of the latter work, which enjoyed enormous and lasting popularity, were adapted as revolutionary songs. Also in 1844, “Hymnusz,” with lyrics taken from an 1823 poem of the same name by Ferenc Kölcsey and with music composed by Erkel, was adopted as Hungary’s national anthem.

To support his family, Erkel also wrote accompaniments and feature songs for popular plays (including those by prolific playwright Ede Szigligeti), and he became the music teacher of the daughter of Archduke Albert. After the Hungarian struggle for independence of 1848–49, Erkel revived the opera company of the National Theatre on next to nothing. In 1853 he assembled what would become the Philharmonic Society (legally established as the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra association in 1867), which performed concerts at the National Museum and later in the Vigadó Theatre. He also introduced new works by Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. His 1857 opera, Erzsébet (“Elizabeth”), was less than a success with audiences. In 1861 Erkel staged his most famous work, Bánk bán (based on a drama by József Katona, with a libretto by Egressy), which at that point probably had been ready for production for more than 10 years. However, Sarolta, his first comic opera, performed in 1862, proved to be another failure. Erkel’s 1867 opera, Dózsa György, displays Wagnerian stylistic touches in its use of leitmotifs, while Brankovics György (1874) employs Hungarian, Serbian, and Turkish musical material.

In his later operas Erkel began entrusting four of his sons Gyula (1842-1909), Elek (1843–1893), László (1844–1896), and Sándor (1846–1900) participated in the composing of his later operas with small orchestration duties and later with the writing of complete accompaniments to vocal scores and compositions.  In 1871 Erkel announced his resignation as the lead conductor of the Philharmonic Society, but he stayed on for the next few years, gradually ceding the position to Hans Richter. In 1873 Erkel became director of the theatre’s operatic division, but he resigned after a year and thereafter conducted only his own works.  Erkel played a significant role in the foundation of the Academy of Music in Budapest (1875), where he served as director and teacher of piano. He remained director until 1887, and a year later he resigned from his teaching post. Composed during this period, his opera Névtelen hősök (1880; “Anonymous Heroes”) was based on Hungarian folk music. The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest was opened in 1884, of which he was the musical director.  Erkel composed one of his last significant works, the Ünnepi nyitány (1887; “Festival Overture”), for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the National Theatre in Budapest.  Beside his operas, for which he is best known, Erkel wrote pieces for piano and chorus. He acquainted Hector Berlioz with the tune of the Rákóczi March, which Berlioz used in The Damnation of Faust. Erkel was an internationally acknowledged chess player as well, and a founder of Pesti Sakk-kör (Budapest Chess Club). He died in Budapest on June 15, 1893.

The following work by Ferenc Erkel is contained in my collection:

Hymnusz or God Bless the Hungarians.