LEO FALL (1873 - 1925)
The youth and early career of composer Leo Fall parallel those of his more famous contemporary, Franz Lehár. Both were born in the provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—Fall in what is now the Czech Republic, Lehár in Hungary; both were sons of military bandmasters and composers; both attended major conservatories while still in their early teens (Fall in Vienna, Lehár in Prague); for a brief period, they even both played the violin in the orchestra of the 50th Austrian Infantry Regiment under the direction of Lehár’s father.
Fall’s father, meanwhile, had settled in Berlin, where young Leo joined him, playing in his father’s café orchestra. Soon, he was working in cabarets as a piano accompanist. After serving as an operetta conductor in Hamburg and Cologne, he returned to Berlin, where he composed and conducted for revues and cabarets. In 1906, he gave up conducting and moved to Vienna to focus on operetta composition. The decision quickly paid off. In 1907 and 1908, he made a name for himself with three hit shows: Der fidele Bauer (The Merry Peasant), Die Dollarprinzessin (The Dollar Princess), and Die geschiedene Frau (The Divorcée, later produced in England as The Girl in the Train).
Fall was not only a great songwriter. Like his colleague and sometime rival, Lehár, he was interested in pushing the musical boundaries of the operetta genre. Lehár was an admirer of Puccini (who returned the compliment); Fall’s favorite composers were Brahms, Wagner, and Richard Strauss, and one can hear echoes of their music, and that of Tchaikovsky, in The Rose of Stambul.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Hersh Glagov (FALL The Rose of Istambul, Naxos 8.660326–27).