'The Genius of Sigmund Romberg'

Composer Sigmund Romberg in 1949

Venice Musicale will present “The Genius of Sigmund Romberg,” a concert of selections from "The Student Prince," "New Moon" and other Romberg compositions, on Jan. 16, in the community room at the William H. Jervey Venice Public Library.

The program will feature songs and piano music performed by singers Barbara Koning, Betsy Bullis, Greg Wollenston, Dawn Spitz and Eric Spitz. Pianists are Betty Badawi and Priscilla Shore.

Sigmund Romberg was a Hungarian-American composer best known for his Viennese style operettas. As a child in Hungary, he learned to play violin and piano and played in his high school orchestra. After high school he was sent to study engineering in Vienna, where he also took composition lessons.

Romberg immigrated to New York City in 1909. After working briefly in a pencil factory, he was employed as a pianist in cafés and restaurants. Eventually he formed his own orchestra and published a few songs. These brought him to the attention of the Shubert brothers, Broadway theatre managers and producers, who hired him to write music for their theatre shows. While working with the Shuberts, Romberg also contributed songs for two of singer Al Jolson’s productions.

Romberg wrote his most famous works in the 1920s. His operettas, "The Student Prince," "The Desert Song" and "The New Moon," were written in the Viennese style of Franz Lehar. Other works, in collaboration with such notables as George Gershwin and Oscar Hammerstein, were more in the style of the American musical. He also wrote scores for several films, including some of his own works. Much of Romberg's music was released on LP during the 1950s and '60s, including extensive excerpts from his operettas sung by Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.

The concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to support Venice Musicale’s scholarship program.

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