Lehár, Franz (Christian)
- Andrew Lamb
(b Komáron, Hungary, April 30, 1870; d Bad Ischl, Oct 24, 1948). Austro-Hungarian composer and conductor. He was the leading operetta composer of the 20th century, being primarily responsible for giving the genre renewed vitality. His most successful operetta, Die lustige Witwe, has established a lasting place in the opera as well as the operetta repertory and, along with Offenbach and Johann Strauss II, Lehár has remained one of the most popular composers of light music.
The family came originally from the eastern Sudetenland. Lehár’s father, also Franz (1838–98), received his music education in Sternberg (now Šternberg), played the horn in the orchestra of the Theater an der Wien, and was for nearly 40 years a military bandmaster and composer of dances and marches. In 1869 he married the Hungarian Christine Neubrandt, and in the following years they moved between various Hungarian garrison towns. The mother-tongue of their offspring was Hungarian and the family name acquired the accent to indicate a long vowel (the stress being on the first syllable). In ...