Longing for Vienna


Vienna has always been a place of longing, a city many people yearn for, especially musicians and composers. When, however, anti-Semitism and the National Socialists took over in the 1930s, discriminating, persecuting and threatening people with death due to their religion or their political convictions, many artists were forced to leave their beloved hometown in order to avoid a terrible fate. The composers among them fared very differently in exile, some experiencing tragedy, others success. In each case, the loss of homeland and familial and artistic surroundings was a grave caesura in their existence, leaving distinctive traces in their lives and in their artistic output.

The Austrian orchestra Divertimento Viennese, whose repertoire focuses on the works of formerly persecuted Viennese composers forced into exile, joins the renowned Austrian singers Rafael Fingerlos and Norbert Ernst in casting a youthful, loving and humorous eye upon the repertoire created by these very composers. With profound appreciation and devoid of self-pity, this appealing combination of baritone and tenor presents masterworks from these composers’ various creative periods. They all share the same profoundly Viennese tone: even in the case of compositions written in a forced exile, (nostalgic) love for Vienna always shines through.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was considered Europe’s child prodigy among composers during the 1910s and 1920s. His escape to America radically altered his artistic path, and he became the inventor of symphonic film music in Hollywood. Like Korngold, Karl Weigl was a student of Alexander Zemlinsky; in 1918 the creator of largescale symphonic and chamber music works was appointed professor of composition at Vienna’s University of Music himself. In 1938 he managed to escape to the United States; there he struggled to make a living, giving private lessons at first. Later, he taught at several renowned institutes. In 1944 he adopted American citizenship, but in his heart he clung to his former homeland. Emmerich Kálmán was the most famous composer of the silver era of operetta, next to Franz Lehár. Once transplanted into a very different entertainment industry in America, his success was more modest. Ernst Krenek created the opera Johnny spielt auf, the work the Nazis used as the centrepiece of their inhuman, racist, anti-Jewish exhibition Entartete Musik (Degenerate Music). Krenek, too, emigrated to the USA. Walter Jurmann created unforgettable hit songs and was able to continue his success after his emigration to Hollywood. Oscar Straus and Ralph Benatzky also emigrated to America via Paris, finally settling in Hollywood. However, they were unable to replicate their success of the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s and were occasionally forced to make a living as translators.


Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Suite aus „Viel Lärmen um nichts“ (1918)

  • Ouvertüre
  • Mädchen im Brautgemach
  • Lied des Balthasar
  • Gartenszene
  • Schlusstanz

Nachtwanderer und Liebesbriefchen

aus Sechs einfach Lieder, op. 9 (1911)

Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen

Tanzlied des Pierrot aus „Die tote Stadt“ (1920)

Karl Weigl
Tänze aus Wien (Old Vienna) (1939)

Ernst Krenek
Leb wohl, mein Schatz

Blues aus „Johnny spielt auf“ für Salonorchester (1925)

Unser Wein und Heimkehr

aus „Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen“ (1929)

Motiv und Regentag

aus „Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen“ (1929)

Ralph Benatzky
Es muß was Wunderbares sein

aus „Im weißen Rößl“ (1930)

Emmerich Kálmán
Grüß mir mein Wien

aus „Gräfin Mariza“ (1924)

Komm Zigany

aus „Gräfin Mariza“ (1924)

Walter Jurmann
Ninon, lach mir einmal zu

aus „Ein Lied für Dich“ (1933)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold / Johann Strauss
Du bist mein Traum

aus „Das Lied der Liebe“ (1931)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Straussiana (1953)

Oscar Strauss
Leise, ganz leise

aus „Ein Walzertraum“ (1907)