Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hansel and Gretel

The bewhiskered fellow above is the fabulously named Engelbert Humperdinck born this day, 1854, in Siegburg, Germany. He began writing music at the age of thirteen, and in spite of his parents wishes that he become an architect, he won a scholarship to the Cologne Conservatory, and prize winning music star was born. His most famous work is the opera Hansel and Gretel, based on the story by the Brothers Grimm, funny how the guys that catalogued all those "fairy tales" had the name of Grimm. The opera was originally composed as a play containing sixteen songs, but upon realizing the work's potential, Humperdinck turned it into a full scale, sawdust on the floor, opera. It was an overwhelming success, becoming the first opera ever broadcast in its entirety over the radio in 1923. Shortly before his death, Humperdinck developed a hearing problem, and became partially deaf. Guess all those hours of pounding away on the keyboard had taken its toll. He began his final composition in 1915, and completed, even after suffering a stroke that partially paralyzed his left hand, in 1918. He was able to attend its first performance, but during it suffered a heart attack, and died the next day of a second heart attack. That might be considered some sort of irony, even ironic enough for an Englishman to appreciate. However his fame for Hansel and Gretel continues to this day, and it holds a special place in my heart because Hansel and Gretel are two of my co-workers nicknames. So, for writing a lovely opera, and helping to prove that a trail of breadcrumbs can be all it takes to lead to fame and fortune, Engelbert Humperdinck, (September 1st, 1854-September 27th, 1921 of a heart attack), you are my hero of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder who are the parents in the whole Hansel & Gretel story/co workers. Not to mention the witch.