Emmerich Kálmán

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Emmerich Kálmán (Hungarian: Kálmán Imre [ ˈkaːlmaːn ˈimrɛ ], actually: Imre Koppstein ; born October 24, 1882 in Siófok , Austria-Hungary ; died October 30, 1953 in Paris ) was a Hungarian composer . He wrote mainly operettas in German and was one of the founders of the silver operetta era together with Franz Lehár and others .

Kálmán statue in Siófok
Kálmán's villa in Vienna 1934 to 1938, Hasenauerstraße 29
Memorial plaque on his villa in Vienna, Hasenauerstraße 29; see footnotes


Emmerich Kálmán was born as Imre Koppstein. He was the son of the Jewish grain dealer Karl Koppstein and his wife Paula, née Singer. In 1892 he moved with his family from Lake Balaton to Budapest and changed his surname to Kálmán during the entrance examination to the Budapest Evangelical High School. From 1900 he studied law at the University of Budapest, at the same time he enrolled in Hans Koessler's composition class at the National Music Academy Budapest, where his fellow students included Béla Bartók , Viktor Jacobi and Albert Szirmai . After completing his studies, Kálmán found his first job as a music critic for the daily newspaper “Pesti Napló”.

In 1907 he received the Franz Joseph Prize of the City of Budapest. After the successful premiere of his first operetta Tatárjárás in Budapest in 1908, he moved to Vienna. With subsequent works such as Die Csárdásfürstin (1915), Countess Mariza (1924) and Die Zirkusprinzessin (1926) he became one of the most famous operetta composers on both sides of the Atlantic.

As a Jew , he had to leave Vienna and Austria after the annexation of Austria in 1938 and emigrated via Zurich first to Paris, from there in 1940 to the United States of America. There he wrote some numbers with Lorenz Hart in 1942 for the planned but not completed musical Miss Underground , but none of the songs was ever published. In 1945 Kálmán used some of the music again for Marinka , with new lyrics by George Marion junior .

After the Second World War he returned to Europe and settled in Paris in 1945. He did not return to Austria until 1949, which gave him anything but a warm welcome, but instead welcomed him with a press campaign aimed at expropriating his villa in Vienna; after another stay in New York, he finally went to Paris in 1951.

Kálmán was married twice to the Jewish actress Vera Makinskaya (actually Marya Mendelsohn, born on August 22, 1907 in Perm), who had divorced him in 1942 but returned to him a year later. There are contradicting statements about the reasons for the return. In 1929 he married Vera Natascha, with whom he had three children.

Honorary grave in the Vienna Central Cemetery

Emmerich Kálmán died in Paris in 1953. His last work, the Broadway-oriented cowboy operetta Arizona Lady , on which Kálmán had worked since 1948/49, was completed by his son Charles . The world premiere took place posthumously on January 1, 1954 on Bayerischer Rundfunk (the tape has since been published on CD by the Operetta Archive, Los Angeles). The stage premiere was six weeks later in Bern.

Kálmán was buried in an honorary grave in the Vienna Central Cemetery (group 31 B, row 12, number 10). In 1955 Kalmanstrasse in Vienna- Hietzing was named after him. In addition, the asteroid (4992) Kálmán was named after him. The night train Munich - Vienna - Budapest (EN 462/463) is called "Kálmán Imre".


The following operettas are by Kálmán:

Film adaptations

Kálmán's life was filmed in a very free form and partially reversed sequence of events in 1958 under the direction of Harald Philipp with the actors Gerhard Riedmann , Rudolf Schock , Elma Karlowa , Marina Orschel and Hubert von Meyerinck under the title The Czardas King .

Kálmán's only Broadway operetta, Golden Dawn , was filmed in Hollywood in 1930 with Vivienne Segal in the leading role. His operetta Die Faschingsfee was filmed in 1931 by Hans Steinhoff under the same title .


  • Julius Bistron, Emmerich Kálmán. With an autobiographical sketch from Emmerich Kálmán's youth , Leipzig 1932 (on Kálmán's 50th birthday)
  • Rudolf Österreicher : Emmerich Kálmán: Life of an Operetta Prince . Vienna 1954. New edition: Vienna [u. a.]: Amalthea-Verlag, 1988.
  • Christa Harten-Flamm:  Kálmán, Emmerich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-428-00192-3 , p. 69 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Emmerich Kálmán in the Vienna History Wiki of the City of Vienna
  • Felix Czeike : Historical Lexicon Vienna. Volume 3: Ha-La. Kremayr & Scheriau, Vienna 1994, ISBN 3-218-00545-0 , p. 436.
  • Stefan Frey : "Laughing through tears". Emmerich Kálmán . An operetta biography. Henschel, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89487-451-1 .
  • Kevin Clarke : "The jazz band already plays in heaven". Emmerich Kálmán and the transatlantic operetta 1928–1932 . v. Bockel, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-932696-70-1
  • Kevin Clarke: Kálmán, the modern. Around the 50th anniversary of Emmerich Kálmán's death, a new picture of the operetta composer emerges. In: Opernwelt , 11/2003, pp. 34–41
  • Volker Klotz : Post-Kakanian operettas around '33 and '38 using the example of Emmerich Kálmán and Ralf [sic] Benatzky. In: Austrian Musicians in Exile , Vienna 1988, pp. 66–72
  • Kevin Clarke: Emmerich Kálmán and the transatlantic ideal of the operetta ( parts 1 and 2 ), in: Operetta Research Center Amsterdam, 2009
  • Kay Less : 'In life, more is taken from you than given ...'. Lexicon of filmmakers who emigrated from Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945. A general overview. P. 272 ​​f., ACABUS-Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8

Web links

Commons : Emmerich Kálmán  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Clarke: The jazz band also plays in heaven , chapter “Vera's Past”, p. 77 ff.
  2. piano reduction (PDF; 26.3 MB); on the meaning of the title: I gave gold for iron
  3. Here it is stated about the Kálmán villa that Kálmán acquired it in 1934 and lived there until 1938; the inscription on the plaque contradicts this.