Born: September 17, 1908 Died: September, 1982
Franz Grothe was one of the generation of talented German film composers who did not move to America in the 1930s. He was born in Berlin in 1908 to a musical family. At age four, he was proficient on the glockenspiel, and he took up the violin a year later before moving on to the piano. At ten, he was composing songs and had given his first solo recital on the violin. The death of his father forced Grothe to become a working musician, playing piano in an orchestra led by Dajos Bela. During this period, he started composing, including symphonic jazz works and more traditional operetta. His first success came when Richard Tauber took Rosen und Frauen, a tango from an unproduced Grothe operetta, into his repertory. The two began a long relationship, with Grothe composing or serving as accompanist on more than 300 recordings by Tauber. During this period, he was also an orchestrator for Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kalman, and Robert Stolz. The birth of sound films drew Grothe into the new medium, first in collaboration with Lehár and then as a composer in his own right. He enjoyed a hit with Schon wie der junge Fruhling from his score for the Marta Eggerth musical Die blonde Carmen (1935), and the two continued a productive relationship in Vienna until the German invasion forced Eggerth out of Austria. Throughout the Nazi era, Grothe was associated with light escapist musical fare in German movies; though cut off from America, he managed to emulate the same kind of rich, compelling post-Romantic music that Max Steiner was writing in Hollywood during this era. Partly owing to the dire condition of the postwar German film industry, Grothe's music was absent from movies for the first five years after World War II. When he did return, he was a somewhat anachronistic figure; having outlived Lehár, Kalman, and others, he was one of the last practitioners of the light, lyrical, yet sophisticated music that they represented. Among his best 1950s works was, not surprisingly, the score for Die Trapp Familie (1956), a German film about the singing family (that disappeared outside of Germany and Austria in the wake of The Sound of Music). By the 1960s, he was providing source music for films and working on television. In 1992, ten years after his death, Cappriccio Records released the first modern recordings of Grothe's best film scores.