Werner Richard Heymann 14.2.1896 - 30.5.1961

Werner Richard Heymann  


Werner Richard Heymann was born on the 14th February 1896 in Koenigsberg. He came to Berlin in 1912 and initially wrote serious music. In 1918 his "Rhapsodic Simphony" received its première with the Vienna Philharmonic under the Musical Direction of Felix Weingartner. From 1918 - 1919 Heymann, together with Friedrich Hollaender, is Musical Director of Max Reinhardt's cabaret, "Schall und Rauch", for which Heymann and Hollaender engage Mischa Spoliansky as third pianist and composer. Heymann writes for Rosa Valetti and her cabarets, "Cabaret Groessenwahn" and "Die Rampe", and between 1921 and 1923 he is Musical Director of Trude Hesterberg's cabaret, "Die Wilde Buehne", setting to music texts by, in particular, Mehring ("Die kleine Stadt", "Die Kaelte", "An den Kanaelen"), Klabund ("In Algier sind die Maedchen schwarz"), Tucholksky ( "Das Leibregiment", "Die Dorfschoene") and Heller ("Berliner Moritat", "Aus Pennen und Kaschemmen") as well as, amongst others, Fritz Gruenbaum, Marcellus Schiffer and Gustav von Wangenheim. His work is performed principally by  Trude Hesterberg, Kate Kuehl ( "Der Glockenturm"), Kurt Gerron and Annemarie Hase.

Heymann, while also composing music for the stage, including the world première of Ernst Toller's  "Die Wandlung" turns in 1923 for the first time to film. Having in 1925 been the assistant to the musical supremo of UFA, Ernoe Rapée, he becomes his successor in 1926, and writes scores for silent movies including Murnau's "Faust" and Fritz Lang's "Spione". In 1929 he composes the music for UFA's first talking picture, "Melodie des Herzens". He subsequently establishes a new genre - Film Operetta - and by 1933 has composed the music for 15 UFA films, with numerous hit songs, whose lyrics as a rule are penned by Robert Gilbert:
"Liebeswalzer" (including: "Du bist das suesseste Maedel der Welt"), "Die Drei von der Tankstelle" ("Ein Freund, ein guter Freund", Liebling, mein Herz laesst dich gruessen"), "Bomben auf Monte Carlo" ("Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen"), "Der Kongress tanzt" ("Das muss ein Stueck vom Himmel sein", "Das gibt's nur einmal, das kommt nicht wieder"), "Der Sieger" ("Hoppla, jetzt komm ich!"), "Ein blonder Traum" ("Irgendwo auf der Welt", "Alles verstehen, heisst alles verzeihn"). The songs are performed by  Lilian Harvey, Willy Fritsch, Oskar Karlweis, Heinz Ruehmann, Hans Albers, Paul Hoerbiger, and the Comedian Harmonists, to name but a few.

In 1933 Heymann, who was born into a Jewish family, emigrates from Nazi Germany. In Paris he writes operettas (including:  "Florestan, 1er Prince de Monaco"). In 1934 he is for a while in Hollywood, then once again in Paris, he makes the film "The Beloved Vagabond" with Maurice Chevalier in London, then in 1936 he finally moves to Hollywood. There he creates the music for the Lubitsch films "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" (together with Hollaender), "Ninotschka" with Greta Garbo, "The Shop Around The Corner", "That Uncertain Feeling" and "To Be Or Not To Be". For the latter two, as well as for "One Million Years B.C." (directed by Hal Roach, Jr.) and "Knickerbocker Holiday" (directed by Harry Joe Brown), he receives Oscar nominations. In the USA between 1937 and 1950 he writes the scores for around 50 films.

In 1951 Heymann comes back to Germany. He weds the actress Elisabeth Millberg: his fourth marriage. In 1952 their daughter Elisabeth-Charlotte Heymann is born. The family live in Salzburg and Munich, where Heymann meets up with old friends, including Trude Hesterberg, Robert Gilbert and Friedrich Hollaender. Alongside other songs and film music ( "Heidelberger Romanze" with Liselotte Pulver and O.W. Fischer, "Alraune" with Hildegard Knef , and remakes of "Der Kongress tanzt" and "Die Drei von der Tankstelle"), Heymann writes the songs for the stage play  "Professor Unrat" (after Heinrich Mann), and the musical comedy "Kiki vom Montmartre". On the 30th May, 1961, Werner Richard Heymann dies in Munich.