Paul Abraham


Born: November 2, 1892; Apatin   Died: May 9, 1960; Hamburg, Germany  
Born in Hungary as Pál Ábrahám, Abraham was educated at the Budapest Academy of Music and, upon his graduation in 1916, worked to establish himself as a composer of serious art music. His works were heard at major European music festivals, and he gained a reputation as a choral conductor in the world of Hungarian liturgical music. By chance, Abraham assumed the post of conductor of the Budapest Operetta Theater in 1927. With the dawn of European Read more sound film in 1929 Abraham began scoring German and Hungarian musical films, beginning with Melodie des Herzens (1929, starring Dita Parlo).

Abraham achieved his first success with Viktoria und ihr Husar (1930); its charming nonsense song "Mausie" became greatly popular. The film's story of a German war widow who discovers her husband alive after she has married a rich American touched a strong responsive chord with the German public. Abraham joined forces with librettist Alfred Grünwald for his next hit show, Die Blume von Hawaii (1931). This was a story about a German sailor who falls for a Hawaiian maid. Set in an exotic locale and spiked with liberal doses of "continental jazz," it was a huge success -- but attracted unfavorable attention from the emerging National Socialist regime. Abraham scored his final hit with Ball im Savoy (1932), which was made into an English-language musical in Britain in 1936. All of Abraham's popular operettas were made into films, sometimes starring Abraham's own discovery, teenage singing sensation Marta Eggerth (who later collected a few Hollywood successes). Abraham's greatest independent triumph in the German film industry was Die Privatsekretärin (1931) starring Renate Müller.

When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, Abraham, as the Jewish author of the degenerate Die Blume von Hawaii, was immediately targeted for expulsion. Abraham had led a popular dance band on German phonograph records in previous years; but when Hitler took charge, Abraham's entire catalog was deleted and his published music banned. Fleeing to Hungary, he left the key to a cabinet containing the manuscripts of some 300 unpublished melodies for safekeeping with his butler. The butler later made liberal use of the manuscripts, selling the tunes to less talented Nazi composers. In Vienna and Hungary, Abraham and Alfred Grünwald continued to produce operettas, the last being Roxy und ihr Wunderteam (1937), but none matched the success of the earlier productions. After the Anschluss, Abraham fled to France and then Cuba.

Abraham's years in Cuba are obscure. However, there is evidence that he worked in the Cuban film industry during this time. Abraham collected an arranging credit on the Hollywood musical Holiday in Mexico (1946), which was filmed mostly in Cuba. Abraham moved to New York after the war, but apparently never worked again. In postwar Germany, Abraham's music enjoyed a renewal of popularity. After word reached Germany that the composer was destitute and living in a mental institution, a Paul Abraham Society was founded in Hamburg; in 1956 the group succeeded in raising the funds to transport him from New York. By this time, Abraham's illness was so advanced that he was unable to compose. Abraham died on the operating table during an experimental procedure intended to restore his abilities.

We may never see all of Abraham's music revived, for the Nazis destroyed much of it. But his three most popular titles, Viktoria, Die Blume von Hawaii and Ball im Savoy, maintain their places in the repertoire of German-speaking opera houses. Toward the end of the twentieth century, Abraham's German movie musicals have also been revived to considerable acclaim, with some commentators stating that they are among the best German musical films of any period. Read less
Browse 1-10 of 10 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    You Mean the World to Me / Jonas Kaufmann
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 308771 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Robert Stolz,  Hans May,  Mischa Spoliansky  ... 
    Performer:  Jonas Kaufmann,  Julia Kleiter
    Conductor:  Jochen Rieder
    CD: $14.99
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  • 2.
    The Very Best Of Operetta, Musical And Movies
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233693 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Emmerich Kálmán,  Paul Lincke,  Richard Heuberger  ... 
    Performer:  Melanie Holliday,  Rudolf Schock,  René Kollo,  Peter Minich  ... 
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  • 3.
    Die Stimme Mit Herz
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233354 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Werner Bochmann,  Robert Stolz,  Karl Blume,  Eduard Künneke  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz [Tenor Vocal] Hoppe,  Ingeborg [Soprano Vocals] Hallstein,  Anny Schlemm,  Rita Bartos  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Becht,  Robert Stolz,  Franz Marszalek,  Wilhelm Stephan  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 4.
    The King's Singers Collection
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 07063 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Paul McCartney,  John Lennon,  Walter Jurmann,  Werner Richard Heymann  ... 
    Performer:  Emil Gerhardt,  Nancy Hadden,  Manuel Barrueco,  Goff Richards  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers,  Consort of Musicke
    CD: $34.99
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  • 5.
    Singers To Remember - Richard Tauber
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 9783 Release Date: 05/13/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jaromir Weinberger,  Paul Abraham,  Emmerich Kálmán,  Robert Stolz  ... 
    Performer:  Mary Lossef,  Richard Tauber
    Conductor:  Manfred Gurlitt,  Franz Schönbaumsfeld,  Frieder Weissmann,  Ernst Hauke  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 6.
    Label: Hungaroton   Catalog: 16886 Release Date: 02/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Abraham
    Performer:  Erzebet Hazy,  Robert Ratonyi,  Anna Zentay,  György Melis  ... 
    Conductor:  Tamás Bródy,  András Bágya,  György Behár
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Harmónia vokál,  Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  A Magyar Rádió és Televizió Esztrádzenekara  ... 
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  • 7.
    Lebendige Vergangenheit - Marcel Wittrisch Vol 2
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 89591 Release Date: 06/29/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Lehár,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Carl Zeller,  Karl Millöcker  ... 
    Performer:  Marcel Wittrisch
    Conductor:  Marek Weber,  Clemens Schmalstich,  Ernst Römer,  Lewis Ruth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marek Weber Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Orchestra members,  Metropol Theater Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $19.98
    CD: $16.99
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  • 8.
    Operettengala / Jochen Kowalski
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 10835 Release Date: 11/02/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Lincke,  Franz Lehár,  Robert Stolz,  Paul Abraham  ... 
    Performer:  Jochen Kowalski
    Conductor:  Heinz Fricke
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    Anton Karas - Der Dritte Mann / Hagen, Wiener Unterhaltungs
    Label: Tuxedo Music   Catalog: 5003 Release Date: 03/26/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Fred Raymond,  Hugo Felix,  Franz Lehár  ... 
    Performer:  Anton Karas
    Conductor:  Hans Hagen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Unterhaltungsorchestra
    On sale! $13.98
    CD: $11.99
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  • 10.
    Bernd Weikl - Operetta Recital
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 77831 Release Date: 04/20/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Zeller,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Oscar Straus,  Robert Stolz  ... 
    Performer:  Bernd Weikl
    Conductor:  Kurt Eichhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Austrian Radio Chorus
    CD: $22.49
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Paul Abraham