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Classical Composers A-Z: Franz Lehar

Peter Wintersgill presents a potted biography of Franz Lehar, composer of The Merry Widow, The Count of Luxembourg and The Land of Smiles.

30th April, 1870, in Komaron, Hungary

Military band master

Studied at home with father, then at Prague Conservatoire at the age of 12.

Joined his father’s band in the Austrian army.

Adult Life
Settled in Vienna in 1902, started to write operas. Became conductor of the Vienna Opera.

Soon became famous with The Merry Widow (1904). Apart from one grand opera, his main claim to fame was operetta, e.g. The Count of Luxembourg (1909), Paganini (1925 – written for Richard Tauber), the Czarevich (1927) and The Land of Smiles (1929).

He was the last Viennese Waltz King, many of his popular tunes being waltzes, e.g. Gold and Silver Waltz. He also wrote a violin concerto, other dances and marches.

He died 245h October, 1948, in Bad Ischl near Salzburg, aged 78.


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