Werner Richard Heymann

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Werner R. Heymann

Werner Richard Heymann (born February 14, 1896 in Königsberg ; † May 30, 1961 in Munich ) was a German composer and conductor . He is considered one of the most important music creators of the Weimar Republic .


Berlin memorial plaque on house Karolingerplatz 5a, in Berlin-Westend
Song extraction with Christel's song from the film The Congress Dances .
Inauguration of Heymanns Stern on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin with his daughter (2012)

Max Brode , the director of the Königsberg Philharmonic , gave him his first music lessons . Heymann already appeared in this orchestra as a violinist at the age of 12. In 1912 he moved to Berlin with his parents . There he attended the Royal College of Music; his teacher was Paul Juon . After the beginning of the First World War , he became a soldier for a short time - until he was released due to illness.

After a short stay in Vienna , he began to work as a composer with various Berlin cabarets. a. with the cabaret "Schall und Rauch", whose director at the time was Max Reinhardt . Heymann took over the management of the cabaret. In the mid-1920s , through the mediation of Erich Pommer, he took up the position of assistant to the general music director of the UFA . A short time later, in 1926, he was promoted to general music director himself. His area of ​​responsibility in this position included the compositions and arrangements of silent films . The replacement of the silent film by the sound film was very helpful to Heymann in view of his musical background and laid the foundation for his later works, with which he was to gain international recognition.

In 1933 he was fired from the UFA because of his Jewish descent. He emigrated - first to Paris , then tried to find a new home and place of work in Hollywood , but this failed. He therefore returned to Paris and later went to London . At the end of the 1930s he went to the USA again. This time he managed to gain a foothold there. In Hollywood he composed numerous film scores, including a. for the Ernst Lubitsch films Ninotschka with Greta Garbo and To Be or Not to Be . He has been nominated for an Oscar several times , including a. for the soundtrack for the film Bluebeard's eighth wife , which was made in cooperation with Friedrich Hollaender .

In 1951 he returned to Germany, where he continued to devote himself to composing and in 1957, after a culture test, regained German citizenship. His fourth marriage was the actress Elisabeth Millberg, with whom he had a daughter, Elisabeth Charlotte Trautwein-Heymann (born November 3, 1952). Heymann died in Munich in 1961. He is buried in the Munich forest cemetery (new part).

His compositional works are very extensive and varied. They include operettas , stage works, film scores , cabaret music , hits , chansons and comedies . He also set texts by Robert Gilbert , Walter Mehring , Kurt Tucholsky , Leo Heller and many others to music. His film scores achieved the greatest popularity; as interpreters u. a. Lilian Harvey , Willy Fritsch , Heinz Rühmann , Paul Hörbiger , Hans Albers and the Comedian Harmonists appear.

The filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms portrayed him, his work and the period of his greatest successes in 2012 in her last film work, the documentary So Wie ein Wunder - Das singende Kino des Herr Heymann .

His older brother was the legal trainee and writer Walter Heymann (1882–1915).

Works (selection)


  • Florestan I. Prince de Monaco
  • Trente et Quarante

Stage music

  • The transformation
  • The Samuels program
  • Artists
  • Professor rubbish
  • Rhapsodic Symphony

Filmography (selection)


In 1957, six years after his return, Heymann applied to regain German citizenship. At the naturalization authority in Bavaria , he was then asked, among other things, whether he had knowledge of German culture and, for example, could sing a German folk song. Thereupon he is said to have only agreed once , without saying a word about his authorship. Heymann received German citizenship.


  • Werner Röder; Herbert A. Strauss (Ed.): International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945 . Volume 2.1. Saur, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-598-10089-2 , p. 507.
  • Hubert Ortkemper (Ed.): Werner Richard Heymann: "Darling, my heart sends my regards" . The most successful composer of the UFA era remembers. Schott Music , Mainz 2011, ISBN 978-3-7957-0751-4 (autobiography).
  • Wolfgang Trautwein ; Centrum Judaicum (ed.): Werner Richard Heymann: Berlin, Hollywood and no turning back . Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-942271-37-0 (= Jewish miniatures. Volume 113).
  • 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. ACABUS-Verlag, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86282-049-8 , p. 240 ff.

Web links

Commons : Werner Richard Heymann  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Among other things, he was supposed to perform a German folk song. He agreed to his hit “That's only once” - without naming himself a composer - and was then naturalized. See slapstick on keys: Werner Richard Heymann revised Der Tagesspiegel July 18, 2013.
  2. Program information on arte.tv ( memento from February 14, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) from May 24, 2012, accessed on February 14, 2015.