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lehar ferenc webLehár FerencFranz Lehár (30 April 1870 – 24 October 1948) was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas, of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).

While his younger brother Anton entered cadet school in Vienna to become a professional officer, Franz studied violin and composition at the Prague Conservatory, where his violin teacher was Antonín Bennewitz, but was advised by Antonín Dvořák to focus on composing music. After graduation in 1899 he joined his father''s band in Vienna, as assistant bandmaster. In 1902 he became conductor at the historic Vienna Theater an der Wien, where his first opera Wiener Frauen was performed in November of that year.
He is most famous for his operettas, but he also wrote sonatas, symphonic poems, marches, and a number of waltzes (the most popular being Gold und Silber, composed for Princess Pauline von Metternich''s "Gold and Silver" Ball, January 1902), some of which were drawn from his famous operettas. Individual songs from some of the operettas have become standards, notably "Vilja" from The Merry Widow and "You Are My Heart''s Delight" ("Dein ist mein ganzes Herz") from The Land of Smiles (Das Land des Lächelns).
Lehár was also associated with the operatic tenor Richard Tauber, who sang in many of his operettas, beginning with Zigeunerliebe (in 1920) and Frasquita (1922), in which Lehár once again found a suitable post-war style. Lehár made a brief appearance in the 1930 film adaptation The Land of Smiles starring Tauber. Between 1925 and 1934 he wrote six operettas specifically for Tauber''s voice. By 1935 he decided to form his own publishing house, Glocken-Verlag (Publishing House of the Bells), to maximize his personal control over performance rights to his works.

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