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Engelbert Humperdinck

Engelbert Humperdinck

Hansel und Gretel  Royal Opera House  12-12-2008
Engelbert Humperdinck
Royal Opera House

Engelbert Humperdinck's life

Engelbert Humperdinck was a German composer, born in 1854. He produced his first composition after receiving piano lessons when he was only 7. His first attempts at works for the stage were two Singspiele when he was 13. He took music classes at the Cologne Conservatory and in 1876, he won a scholarship to go to Munich, where he studied with Franz Paul Lachner and later with Josef Rheinberger. He won the Mendelssohn Stiftung of Berlin in 1879, and went to Italy, getting close to Richard Wagner in Naples. He then traveled through Italy, France and Spain, spending two years in Barcelona teaching at the conservatoire. In 1887 he returned to Cologne, and was appointed professor at the Hoch Conservatory (Frankfurt-am-Main) in 1890, as well as teacher of harmony at Stockhausen's Vocal School. By this time he had composed several works for chorus and a Humoreske for orchestra, which was quite popular in Germany. His popularity still goes around his opera Hänsel und Gretel, which was produced at Weimar, 1893. In 1896 the Kaiser made Humperdinck a Professor and he went to live at Boppard. Four years later, however, he went to Berlin where he was appointed head of a Meister-Schule of composition. Humperdinck was greatly influenced by Richard Wagner, and worked as his assistant. In his opera Die Königskinder, Humperdinck became the first composer to use Sprechgesang, a vocal technique halfway between singing and speaking, and later exploited by Arnold Schoenberg. He died in 1921.

Humperdinck's Operas

Harzipere (1868), Perla (1868), Claudine von Villa Bella (1868–1872), Fedelma (1883), Schneewittchen (1888), Hänsel und Gretel (1893), Die sieben Geislein (1895), Dornröschen (1902), Die Heirat wider Willen (1902–1905), Bübchens Weihnachtstraum (1906), Die Königskinder (1895–1897), Das Mirakel (1911), Die Marketenderin (1913), Christnacht (1914), Gaudeamus (1915–1919).


Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel

Hänsel und Gretel is an opera by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck dated 1893, inspired by the popular fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. Humperdinck is an influential representative of the musical late-romantic period in his country and this is his first opera. The composer avoided the realism of the Brothers Grimm in favour of more imaginary elements. A music with an immediate impact and sincere and straightforward appeal, revealing the great German Lied heritage. It presents the great theme of Nature, already at the core of the artistic trend of the Nineteenth Century in Germany. An expressive world which appeared lost at the beginning of this era but gives back an intact realism, thanks to the expressive power of Humperdinck. Each character (and this is the modernity of Monteverdi's musical sheet) is “dressed” with what it sings and interprets, expressing its personality independently.
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