Happy Birthday, Englebert Humperdinck!

 

Oh.  Wait.  Sorry.  Wrong Englebert Humperdinck.

“Wut!”  I hear you exclaim in disbelief.  There’s more than one Englebert Humperdinck?

Well, no…..

The “real” Englebert Humperdinck, born September 1, 1854 was a German composer best known for his opera Hänsel und Gretel, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale of the same name.  Like many of his works, it sprang from a friend or family connection, or featured stories from childhood.  Hänsel und Gretel was the fully fleshed-out product of his sister’s request to compose some tunes for her daughters’ puppet show.  Humperdinck’s opera Konigskinder (King’s Children), which Humperdinck later turned into a standalone opera was first written as musical interludes to accompany a play written by the daughter of a friend.  Other works included Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty), Bübchen’s Weihnachtstraum (Little Boy’s Christmas Dream), and Das Mirakel (The Miracle).

Humperdinck’s score for Das Mirakel was incorporated into the 1912 British silent movie, The Miracle (not to be confused with the German silent movie Das Mirakel released the same year).  Humperdinck’s Miracle, set in the Middle Ages, recounts the adventures of Megildis, a disobedient nun, who leaves the convent to with a knight for a series of adventures with good and evil.  Meanwhile, back at the convent, a statue of the Virgin Mary comes to life to take her place until Megildis, having been shown the error of her ways, returns–chastened and in tragic circumstances– on Christmas Eve to experience ‘the miracle.’

Theologically incoherent (and worse) as it may be, the “Lyricscope play” was a rip-roaring success at its December 1912 world premiere at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, where it was accompanied by a full orchestra, a troupe of dancers in medieval costume, live sound effects such as church bells and crowd noises, and a chorus of at least 60. The piece-de-resistance though, was the single hand-colored print, making it one of the first full-length color feature films to ever be shown.  (Most of the film’s worldwide showings were in black-and-white).

Eleven years later, that same Royal Opera House chose Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel for its first radio broadcast of a complete opera.  The Metropolitan Opera in New York followed suit on Christmas Day, 1931, when it selected Hänsel und Gretel to kick off its inaugural series of Saturday Matinee radio broadcasts, which continue today.

Englebert Humperdinck later enjoyed a successful career as a professor of music (his students included Kurt Weill), and he continued to provide incidental music for a number of contemporary and classic productions.  He died, following a series of heart attacks, on September 27, 1921.

Now, that other Englebert Humperdinck:

Arnold George Dorsey was born in Madras, India, on May 2, 1936. After a very modest musical career under the name “Gerry Dorsey,” his new manager, Gordon Mills (who already had ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name) in tow, suggested that Dorsey change his name to “Englebert Humperdinck.”  And, 140 million record sales later, the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s not his birthday, but here’s another of his hits:

and here’s the Overture from  Hänsel und Gretel by that “other” Englebert Humperdinck:

.

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  1. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Awesome post!

    She: Oh.  Wait.  Sorry.  Wrong Englebert Humperdinck.

    Ok.  That got me to click on through and read on… 

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    She: Oh.  Wait.  Sorry.  Wrong Englebert Humperdinck.

    I was going to say! 🤣

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    She: ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name)

    That one is a lot closer, though. Thomas Woodward’s mother’s maiden name was Jones. A lot more relationship there than when Davey Jones became David Bowie.

    • #3
  4. She Member
    She
    @She

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She: ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name)

    That one is a lot closer, though. Thomas Woodward’s mother’s maiden name was Jones. A lot more relationship there than when Davey Jones became David Bowie.

    Wait!  David Bowie was one of The Monkees??  Now THAT I did not know 😜

    • #4
  5. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    My favorite depiction of the dream pantomime from Hänsel und Gretel.

     

     

    The weirdest is what happens when the Metropolitan opera ignores the libretto. The children’s prayer translated from German is,

    When at night I go to sleep,
    Fourteen angels watch do keep,
    Two my head are guarding,
    Two my feet are guiding;
    Two upon my right hand,
    Two upon my left hand.
    Two who warmly cover
    Two who o’er me hover,
    Two to whom ’tis given
    To guide my steps to heaven.

    The Metropolitan Opera decided to bring the production up to date, ignore their prayer and assumed the children were dreaming about food.  Strange and surreal.

     

     

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Ah, but did the real Englebert Humperdinck ever have women throw their hotel keys up on the stage? I think not!

    • #6
  7. Franz Drumlin Member
    Franz Drumlin
    @FranzDrumlin

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):
    My favorite depiction of the dream pantomime from Hänsel und Gretel.

    And what’s with a mezzo singing the role of a boy? Will this transgenderism ever cease?? 

    All kidding aside, thanks for posting the clips! It is a gorgeous opera despite Humperdinck’s librettist sister rewriting the fairy tale in order to side-step the child abandonment aspect of the story. I saw that ‘Foodie’ production at Lyric Opera. No worries. Humperdinck’s music is beautiful enough to overcome the silly pretensions of the director.

    • #7
  8. Chris O Coolidge
    Chris O
    @ChrisO

    When I was pretty young someone had a calendar showing famous birthdays. I was a bit let down, to be honest, to find Englebert Humperdinck’s (the Lesser?) there, but you can’t argue with those sales numbers. 

    Happy birthday to the original! Interesting stuff.

    • #8
  9. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I did not know about the original;  you’d think a guy who edited his daughter’s PhD thesis on Kurt Weill, who collects random bits of knowledge like a big ball of putty rolling downhill, whose wife has a Masters in Music, would have picked up this very interesting fact.  But then, I’ve been known to snore during operas and have a problem displacing reality when forced to watch musical theater productions.  (I think my aversion is really political.  The stage has become a rant on evil America, and I hate that.)  As for the other EH, my mother loved him (along with his twin, TJ) and would stack records on the old HiFi on Sundays after church.  So it was “Release me” and “Spanish Eyes” and its like all afternoon.  

    Thank you for this!

    And for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_3T87epb3A

     

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    She (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She: ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name)

    That one is a lot closer, though. Thomas Woodward’s mother’s maiden name was Jones. A lot more relationship there than when Davey Jones became David Bowie.

    Wait! David Bowie was one of The Monkees?? Now THAT I did not know 😜

    No, but that’s why he had to change his name for showbiz. Welshman everywhere.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She: ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name)

    That one is a lot closer, though. Thomas Woodward’s mother’s maiden name was Jones. A lot more relationship there than when Davey Jones became David Bowie.

    Wait! David Bowie was one of The Monkees?? Now THAT I did not know 😜

    No, but that’s why he had to change his name for showbiz. Welshman everywhere.

    David Bowie’s birth name was David Robert Jones. The other David Jones was there first.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    David Bowie’s birth name was David Robert Jones. The other David Jones was there first.

    Yes, David Thomas Jones.

    • #12
  13. She Member
    She
    @She

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She: ‘Tom Jones’ (also not-his-actual-name)

    That one is a lot closer, though. Thomas Woodward’s mother’s maiden name was Jones. A lot more relationship there than when Davey Jones became David Bowie.

    Wait! David Bowie was one of The Monkees?? Now THAT I did not know 😜

    No, but that’s why he had to change his name for showbiz. Welshman everywhere.

    Ain’t that the truth.  Something the English become inured to over the course of their lives.  Katherine Jenkins, Shirley Bassey, Sir Tom Jones (I’ll always remember the Queens Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012, the highlight of which was 72-year-0ld Sir Tom belting out that emblematic anthem of toxic masculinity, Delilah, as others of his age group feebly reprised their greatest hits while apparently looking forward to their next nap.  Looks like the pre-woke Harry enjoyed it immensely.  All bets are off as to what he’d say about it now), Charlotte Church, Harry Secombe, Geraint Evans, Tessie O’Shea (Two Ton Tessie.  Lord). And that’s just off the top of my head.  There are so many more.  (I know I’m dating myself (a bit of a perverse concept, I’ve always thought) with some of these. Oh well.)

    And–of course–Mary Hopkin:

    Oh, they really were.

    All of which is a preamble to explaining why, when Mr. She and I went to see Love Actually for the first time, in an actual theater, the following scene elicited an eyeroll from this Englishwoman, and the words–“A Welshman!  Of course he is!” (I wasn’t talking about Hugh Grant):

    • #13
  14. She Member
    She
    @She

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    And for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_3T87epb3A

    Thank you.  That’s just lovely.

    An alternative treatment of Man Without Love that I’m fond of:

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    As for the other EH, my mother loved him (along with his twin, TJ) and would stack records on the old HiFi on Sundays after church.  So it was “Release me” and “Spanish Eyes” and its like all afternoon.  

    My mother loved them both, Granny not so much, as she found Tom Jones rather unsettling.  I didn’t probe too deeply into why that was. LOL.

    They (Tom and Englebert) had a falling-0ut at some point, but prior to that, appeared together here (gosh, they were both so good, it really is the ultimate melding of the schlock-meister and the God of Sex):

     

    • #14
  15. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Awesome post!

    She: Oh. Wait. Sorry. Wrong Englebert Humperdinck.

    Ok. That got me to click on through and read on…

    Me too, but I confess to a strong preference for the more modern Humperdinck.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Aw, nuts.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    This is the venue that ol’ Engelbert is taking a pass on.

    I think I saw Bambi there.

    It’s worth the price of admission even if you don’t much care for the act.

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    They were going to tear the Rialto down for an office block, because of course they were. Barbarians.

    • #18
  19. She Member
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    This is the venue that ol’ Engelbert is taking a pass on.

    I think I saw Bambi there.

    It’s worth the price of admission even if you don’t much care for the act.

    Wow.  I might want to go there just to look around, even if I found out Englebert Humperdinck had cancelled.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):
    Wow.  I might want to go there just to look around, even if I found out Englebert Humperdinck had cancelled.

    It is available for receptions and such.

    They didn’t have it that well lit back in it’s day as a regular movie theater. The rotunda, just beyond the esplanade, was where the refreshment booth was. I saw a sneak preview of The Sting there back in ’73.

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    I think I saw Bambi there.

    I remember a lot of activities there. There was some sort of show for the families associated with the arsenal. I remember there was a magician who made the mistake of picking my middle brother to assist him, and brother revealed how the trick was done.

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    I saw a sneak preview of The Sting there back in ’73.

    Where streets in town are mentioned that never existed.

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I think I saw Bambi there.

    I remember a lot of activities there. There was some sort of show for the families associated with the arsenal. I remember there was a magician who made the mistake of picking my middle brother to assist him, and brother revealed how the trick was done.

    Caterpillar had its Christmas Program there too. The kids got stockings filled with candy and Crackerjack prize-level toys.

    • #23
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    I saw a sneak preview of The Sting there back in ’73.

    Where streets in town are mentioned that never existed.

    … and the train station on Mason Avenue. Or Mason Street. Either way, no such place.

    • #24
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