Bintel Blog

Being Composer Emmerich Kálmán Means Never Saying You’re Sári.

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Hungarian Jewish composer of light music, Kálmán Imre (1882 –1953), better known by the Germanized version of his name, Emmerich Kálmán, continues to enjoy cult status in East and Central Europe. American audiences, though, might need reminding about Kálmán’s past glories like the Broadway hit “Sári” from 1914, which will be presented in concert version by Philadelphia’s Concert Operetta Theater at New York’s Merkin Hall on October 18.

Also staged as “Der Zigeunerprimas” (The Gypsy Band Leader; which you can listen to here ), Sári offers up a typically fluffy story of an aging gypsy violinist caught in a generational struggle with his son, who prefers Bach, Handel, and Wagner to folkloric tunes. The less-than-gripping plot is bolstered by Kálmán’s soulfully sweet melodies, which make up in sincerity what they lack in Lehár-like sardonic verve.

A long line of distinguished Jewish singers specialized in Kálmán roles, perhaps because the ardent cantorial tradition, as exemplified by the Hungarian Jewish tenor and former cantor Róbert Ilosfalvy (who passed away this year, but who you can listen to here ) so perfectly suited Kálmán’s music. Likewise, the Austrian-born Jewish tenor Richard Tauber was a friend as well as a stellar interpreter (check him out here ) of Kálmán, as was the once wildly popular Russian-born Jewish tenor Leo Monosson (again on YouTube, here ).

Hungarian Jewish sopranos like the lovely Gitta Alpár (listen to here ) and Budapest-born Marta Eggerth (enjoy here ) also personify this long-lost meltingly charming approach to music. Ms. Eggerth, now 97, embodies the healthy, eupeptic message of Kálmán’s music, and is scheduled to lead a voice master class on February 17, 2010 at the Manhattan School of Music. Kálmán himself, in a Central Europe which grew increasingly unfriendly to Jews, managed to preserve as long as possible an upbeat spirit, creating still-cherished numbers which possess some of the permanent zest of music hall classics.

Watch an excerpt from a previous Philadelphia’s Concert Operetta Theater performance of Kálmán’s Sári, below:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Merkin Hall, Kálmán Imre, Emmerich Kálmán

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.