Rudolf Friml

Rudolf Friml

Rudolf Friml (December 7, 1879 - November 12, 1972) was a composer of operettas, musicals and songs, as well as a pianist.

Early life

Born in Prague, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now capital of the Czech Republic, Friml showed aptitude for music at an early age. His abilities gained him acceptance into the Prague Conservatory where he studied music composition with Antonín Dvořák. He completed the six-year course in three years. While studying at the conservatory he began to compose light songs and airs. After graduation he took a position as accompanist to violinist Jan Kubelik. He toured with Kubelik twice in the United States and at the end of the second tour remained there to compose. He made his American piano debut at Carnegie Hall in 1904 and premiered his "Piano Concerto in B-Major" in 1906 with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Walter Damrosch. He settled for a brief time in Los Angeles where he married Mathilda Baruch (1909). They had two children, Charles Rudolf (Jr.) (1910) and Marie Lucille (1911). After a divorce, he later married Kay Wong.

"The Firefly"

One of the most popular theatrical forms in the early decades of the 20th century in America was the operetta, and its most famous composer was Irish-born Victor Herbert. It was announced in 1912 that operetta diva Emma Trentini would be starring in a new operetta on Broadway by Herbert with lyricist Otto Harbach entitled "The Firefly". Shortly before the writing of the operetta, Trentini appeared in a special performance of Herbert's "Naughty Marietta" conducted by Herbert himself. When Trentini refused to sing "Italian Street Song" for the encore, an enraged Herbert stormed out of the orchestra pit refusing any further work with Trentini.

Arthur Hammerstein, the operetta's sponsor, frantically began to search for another composer. Not finding anyone who could compose as well as Herbert, Hammerstein settled on the almost unknown Friml due to his classical training. After a month of work, Friml produced a glittering score for what would be his first theatrical success. After the success of "The Firefly", Friml followed with three more operettas that were successful, though not as successful as "The Firefly". These were "High Jinks" (1913), "Katinka" (1915) and "You're in Love" (1917). He also contributed songs to a musical in 1915 entitled "The Peasant Girl".

Friml's greatest successes

Friml wrote his most famous operettas in the 1920s. In 1924, he wrote "Rose Marie". This operetta, on which Friml collaborated with lyricists Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto Harbach and co-composer Herbert Stothart, was a hit worldwide and a few of the songs from it also became hits including "The Mounties" and "Indian Love Call". Friml's use of murder as part of the plot as well as his integrating the music and the plot was ground-breaking for its time.

After "Rose Marie's" success came two other operettas, "The Vagabond King" in 1925, with lyrics by Brian Hooker and W.H. Post, and "The Three Musketeers" in 1928, with lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse and Clifford Grey, based on Dumas's famous swashbuckling novel. In addition, Friml contributed to Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies of 1921 and 1923.

Friml also wrote music for many films during the 1930s, often songs adapted from previous work. "The Vagabond King", "Rose Marie", and "The Firefly" were all made into films and included at least some of Friml's music. Oddly enough, his operetta version of "The Three Musketeers" was never filmed, despite the fact that the novel itself has been filmed many times - once as a musical with Don Ameche and The Ritz Brothers. Like his contemporary, Ivor Novello, Friml was sometimes ridiculed for the sentimental and insubstantial nature of his compositions and often dubbed as trite. Friml was also criticized for the old-fashioned, Old World sentiments found in his works. By the end of the 1930s, Friml had fallen out of fashion.

Later years and legacy

Friml's last stage musical was "Music Hath Charms" in 1934. A few of his works have seen revivals on Broadway, these include a 1943 production of "The Vagabond King" and a 1984 production of "The Three Musketeers". "The Donkey Serenade" from the film version of "The Firefly", "The Mounties" and "Indian Love Call" are still frequently heard, often in romantic parody or comic situations. His piano music is also often performed.

In a November 1939 issue of "Time" magazine Friml claimed that Victor Herbert communicated to him through a Ouija board. He said that Herbert told him, "Play five notes." After he played them he said Herbert responded, "Quite charming." [ [,8816,789610,00.html "Time" magazine, November 13, 1939.] ]

His two sons also worked as musicians. Rudolf Jr. was a big band leader in the 1930s and 40s, and William, a son from a later marriage, was a composer and arranger in Hollywood. In 1969, Friml was celebrated by Ogden Nash on the occasion of his 90th birthday in a couplet which ended: "I trust your conclusion and mine are similar: 'Twould be a happier world if it were Frimler." Friml died in Los Angeles in 1972 and was interred in the "Court of Honor" at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. On August 18, 2007, a death notice in the "San Francisco Chronicle" reported that Kay Wong Ling Friml (born March 16, 1913), last wife of Rudolf, died on August 9 and would be buried with him in Forest Lawn.

Satircal songwriter Tom Lehrer made a reference to Friml on his first album, "Songs by Tom Lehrer" (1953). The song "The Wiener Schnitzel Waltz" includes the lyric, "Your lips were like wine (if you'll pardon the simile) / The music was lovely, and quite Rudolf Friml-y."


*"The Firefly" (1912)
*"High Jinks" (1913) [ [ Vocal score for "High Jinks"] ]
*"Katinka" (1915)
*"The Peasant Girl" (1915) - contributor.
*"You're in Love" (1917) [ [ Vocal score for "You're in Love"] ]
*"Kitty Darlin"' (1917)
*"Sometime" (1918)
*"Glorianna" (1918)
*"Tumble In" (1919)
*"June Love" (1921)
*"Ziegfeld Follies of 1921" - contributor.
*"Cinders" (1923)
*"Ziegfeld Follies of 1923" - contributor.
*"Rose Marie" (1924)
*"The Vagabond King" (1925)
*"Ziegfeld's Revue "No Foolin'" (1926)
*"The Wild Rose" (1926)
*"White Eagle" (1927)
*"The Three Musketeers" (1928)
*"Luana" (1930)
*"Music Hath Charms" (1934)


*"Cambridge Guide to Theatre", 1992.
*Green, Stanley. "Broadway Musicals Show by Show, 5th Ed." Hal Leonard, New York. 1996.
*Green, Stanley. "The World of Musical Comedy". Ziff-Davis, New York. 1960.
*Ganzl, Kurt. "The Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre" (3 Volumes). New York: Schirmer Books, 2001.
*Traubner, Richard. "Operetta: A Theatrical History". Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1983.
*Bordman, Gerald. "American Operetta". New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

External links

*ibdb name|id=11702
* [ Friml Archive, UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections. Manuscripts, recordings, correspondence, memorabilia (in process)]
* [ List of Friml's stage works with information about librettists and theatres]

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  • Rudolf Friml — (auch Charles Rudolf Friml) (* 2. Dezember 1879 in Prag; † 12. November 1972 in Los Angeles) war ein US amerikanischer Pianist und Komponist böhmisch jüdischer Herkunft. Schon während des Studiums am Prager Konservatorium unter Antonín Dvořák… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Rudolf Friml — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Charles Rudolf Friml (* 7 de diciembre de 1879, Praga † 12 de noviembre de 1972, Hollywood, California) fue un compositor estadounidense de origen checo. Estudió bajo la tutela de Antonín Dvořák y emigró a los… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Rudolf Friml — Rudolf Friml, né le 7 décembre 1879 à Prague et mort le 12 novembre 1972 à Los Angeles, est un compositeur d opérettes, de comédies musicales, de chansons et de pièces pour piano. Biographie Après une formation musicale et une brève carrière en… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Charles Rudolf Friml — Rudolf Friml (auch Charles Rudolf Friml) (* 2. Dezember 1879 in Prag; † 12. November 1972 in Los Angeles) war ein US amerikanischer Pianist und Komponist böhmisch jüdischer Herkunft. Schon während des Studiums am Prager Konservatorium unter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Friml — Rudolf Friml (auch Charles Rudolf Friml) (* 2. Dezember 1879 in Prag; † 12. November 1972 in Los Angeles) war ein US amerikanischer Pianist und Komponist böhmisch jüdischer Herkunft. Schon während des Studiums am Prager Konservatorium unter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Friml, (Charles)Rudolf — Friml (frĭmʹəl), (Charles) Rudolf. 1879 1972. Czechoslovakian born American pianist and composer of 33 light operas, including The Firefly (1912) and The Vagabond King (1925). * * * …   Universalium

  • Friml — [frim′əl] (Charles) Rudolf 1879 1972; U.S. composer, born in Bohemia …   English World dictionary

  • Friml, Rudolf — ▪ American composer born Dec. 7, 1879, Prague died Nov. 12, 1972, Hollywood  U.S. composer of operettas showing strong European musical influences and suggesting pre World War I European lightheartedness.       After study under the Czech… …   Universalium

  • Rudolf — /rooh dolf/, n. 1. Max, born 1902, U.S. orchestra conductor, born in Germany. 2. Lake, former name of Turkana (def. 3). 3. a male given name, form of Rolf. * * * I born Aug. 21, 1858, Schloss Laxenburg, near Vienna, Austria died Jan. 30, 1889,… …   Universalium

  • Rudolf — (as used in expressions) Bing, Sir Rudolf Bultmann, Rudolf (Karl) Carnap, Rudolf Diesel, Rudolf Christian Karl Eucken, Rudolf Christoph Friml, (Charles) Rudolf Frisch, Max (Rudolf) Hertz, Heinrich (Rudolf) Hess, (Walter Richard) Rudolf Hess,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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