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27th September 2021 by

Engelbert Humperdinck centenary

Engelbert Humperdinck (1 September 1854 – 27 September 1921) was a German composer, most widely known for his opera Hansel and Gretel. He produced his first composition aged 7, though his parents disapproved of his plans for a career in music and encouraged him to study architecture.

Hänsel und Gretel, conducted by Richard Strauss, was produced at Weimar on 23 December 1893. The libretto, by the composer’s sister Adelheid Wette, was based on the folktale made familiar by the brothers Grimm. 

Among his other operatic works are DornröschenDie Königskinder and Die Heirat wider Willen. Humperdinck was greatly influenced by Richard Wagner, and worked as his assistant. In his opera Die Königskinder, Humperdinck became the first composer to use Sprechgesang, a vocal technique halfway between singing and speaking, and later exploited by Arnold Schoenberg. He also wrote incidental music for plays by Aristophanes, Shakespeare, and Maeterlinck; as well as works for piano.

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