Benatzky, Ralph

Biography

 

Ralph Benatzky, Austrian composer of Czech descent, was born in the family of a German language schoolteacher. In 1890, the family moved to Vienna.

In 1899, the boy was enlisted in the military school, raised to the rank of the lieutenant, but then resigned. Benatzky studied German and literature, philosophy and music in Prague and Vienna. In 1910, he received his doctorate in philosophy. At the same time, he expanded his musical education under Dvorak, and soon decided to devote his life completely to music.

He started as a composer. In 1910, he became the conductor in the Munich theater. Cabaret Bonbonner in Munich where he worked as a creative director and the colorful stage of Rideamus Cabaret in Vienna where he worked as the second director, were the theatres of his first triumphs in 1912 and in 1914 correspondingly. His work at that time - frivolous songs and texts for cabaret, plays and operettas. With the operetta "Love in the Snow" at the theater in Vienna, he celebrated his first major success in 1916.

Benatzky skillfully combined the musical techniques that he mastered during the previous years with the new jazz sounds of the 1920’s, as well as the folk sounds with modern dance rhythms and, thus, achieved the worldwide recognition - his productions were staged in London and Vienna (1931), Paris (1932) and New York (1936).

Ralph Benatzky is the author of more than 5000 songs. Besides, he composed music for movies, radio programs and stage productions. He left his mark in the history of music primarily as the author of operettas, such as Casanova (1928), Three Musketeers (1929), White Horse hotel (1930), Posh Girl (1933) and Axel at the Gate of Heaven (1936).

He left Switzerland in June 1939 and went to Hollywood, where he had previously signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Nevertheless, the cooperation did not last long. When he was refused Swiss citizenship in 1940, he immigrated to the United States, where he was on the air in his own broadcast. He made translations as well – he translated William Somerset Maugham's memoirs. Sometimes he took part in the concert performances and tours.

Benatzky settled in Zurich in 1848. He wrote his autobiographical novel “In Dur and Minor” in 1953.

After his death, His property is stored and managed by the Academy of Fine Arts Chancery in Berlin.

One the streets in Vienna was named in his honor in 1962.