ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK (1854 - 1921)
Humperdinck is generally known for his fairytale opera Hänsel und Gretel, a Christmas favourite, first staged in Weimar in 1893. His career brought early contact with Wagner and subsequently with his family as music tutor to Siegfried Wagner, the composer’s son. He held various teaching positions of some distinction and enjoyed a fruitful collaboration in the theatre with Max Reinhardt, providing incidental music for a number of Shakespearean productions in Berlin.
Although Hänsel und Gretel remains the best known of Humperdinck’s operas, recent revivals abroad of Die Königskinder (‘The King’s Children’), another fairytale opera, suggest a renewal of popularity in this work. Yet another fairytale opera, Dornröschen (‘Sleeping Beauty’), was first staged in 1902. Die Marketenderin (‘The Canteen Woman’) was completed in 1913. He also wrote incidental music for the theatre, including music for Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale.
Humperdinck’s other compositions include a quantity of songs and a smaller number of choral pieces.