Kalman the second is gone

Kalman the second is gone


norman lebrecht

February 23, 2015

Charles Kálmán, an operetta less feted than his father Emmerich, has died in Munich, aged 85.

He cmpleted his father’s las musical, Arizona Lady, in 1954 and has sme further success with a show called Quasimodo. Ute Lemper has recorded several of his songs.

charles kalman


  • Alexander Frey says:

    Dear Norman,

    Charles Kalman was a very close friend of mine. May I post here the tribute I wrote on my Facebook page? I’ve been so incredibly sad since Charlie’s wife informed me of his death yesterday. He knew so many of the great names of a bygone era-Korngold, Rósza, Marta Eggerth, Jan Kiepura, Marlene Dietrich, Jerome Kern and the Gershwins…all the great artists who inhabited the Kalman family’s circle of friends.

    Yesterday afternoon, I received the very sad news that Charles Kalman passed away earlier in the day. Charlie was a fantastic composer and pianist, and a very dear friend and mentor to me. I loved him and his music. My heart goes out to Charlie’s wife, the incomparable and wonderful Ruth whom Charlie adored so very deeply. She is an utterly superb person and I know very few couples in my life who have loved each other more than Charlie and Ruth. Her own grieving right now is so deep and beyond description.

    Charlie wrote beautiful and glorious music for the stage, concert hall and television and film. He came from high musical pedigree: His father was the famous Viennese operetta composer Emmerich Kalman, and Charlie, as a boy in Vienna, had his first composition lessons with Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The Korngolds and Kalmans were very close and took many summer holidays together. Charlie and the soprano Marta Eggerth, who was also a great friend of both Charlie’s (since his childhood) and mine, and with whom I had performed, were the last remaining great artists of pre-war Vienna, and they both were my own personal direct connections to that era. And now they’re both gone. Gone, but I thank God that they shared with me so many of their personal stories and that their beautiful friendship and exquisite music are in my life to my last days. And I am thankful that I got to make music with both of them. For me, one of my greatest experiences was when Charlie, Marta and I were together in London when Marta and I performed at Wigmore Hall. At one point in the program, we brought Charlie up to the stage and he accompanied Marta in one of his songs. In many ways, that concert, and the days surrounding it when we all ate, rehearsed and hung out together, was the last big hurrah of that incredible epoch.

    Charlie and I first met while working together on the musical “Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) based on the film starring Marlene Dietrich, (who was a Kalman family friend and whom Charlie had known well since he was a boy. Dietrich later introduced him as an adult to Cole Porter). It was my first European theater job in which I started out as a rehearsal pianist and gradually rose to being Charlie’s assistant and assistant conductor. His music for that epic production (which starred Ute Lemper), was exciting and beautiful, and he taught me a lot during the 3 month-long rehearsal process during which the music was being composed as the production evolved.

    My own sadness is in these past 24 hours has been very heavy and I am really mourning. I feel as if an incredible, important part of my own history and self has gone.

    Charlie was an enormously kind and beautiful human being. He was also one of those rare musicians who actually did not have an ego. He had a huge and generous heart and a very deep-feeling soul. His music was a reflection of his beautiful spirit. Here, in the link below, is an example of that spirit and soul-the Hudson Concerto for piano and orchestra in which Charles Kalman himself is the soloist! He also played the piano gorgeously! It is a lovely, short one-movement work that I also have been privileged to have played and conducted from the keyboard many times myself.

    Charles Kalman: Hudson Concerto: