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Marcel Prawy (1911-2003)

Andor Foldes

Hungarian pianist Andor Foldes - Image taken from the cover of a Deutsche Grammophon release.







Marta Eggerth (b. 1912) and Jan Kiepura (1902-1966) at the time when they triumphed in New York - Picture taken from the EMI Odeon LP OPXH 1010.




Georg Kreisler - image taken from the cover of the recording of Liebeslieder am Ultimo - Intercord 160.120.







Juris Doctor Marcel F. Prawy at 31 in 1943.


























Famous conductor Fritz Busch in 1942, New York.
Picture edited by R.A.B., taken from The Etude magazine, April 1943. (SoundFountain Archive)










The famous recordings of Béla Bartók playing his own work at the piano, New York, 1942.






Paul Schöffler

Gaspar Cassado










Hans Wolf conducts Symphony in D by Cesar Franck.











A few recordings produced by Marcel Prawy appeared on the Viennola label.





May 29, 1897 – November 29, 1957




Conductor Fritz Busch.
13 March 1890 -
14 September 1951













Beethoven Sonatas Op. 109 and 110 by Jörg Demus on RLP-199-29.




Search The Remington Site









See: Copyright




Images of Marcel Prawy's Certificate of Nationalization and ID photograph, and the letter of recommendation written by Don Gabor, courtesy of researcher Franz Krahberger from Austria.





In 1937, twenty six year old Marcel Prawy became personal secretary to Polish singer/actor Jan Kiepura and Hungarian operetta singer Mártha Eggerth (also Marta Eggert, Martha Eggerth, originally Márta Eggert).
In this function Prawy could combine his knowledge and organizational talent with his love for music and drama. The engagement was the beginning of a remarkable career.


Marcel Prawy - in full Marcel Horace Frydman, Ritter von Prawy - was born on December 29, 1911, in Vienna. The title Ritter means Knight. And Freiherr (the title which is also often mentioned) is the equivalent of baron. He was born into a Jewish, Austro-Hungarian noble family which originated from Poland.

From an early age on music, and especially opera, was Marcel's passion. However, after passing his gymnasium exam, he did not study music and musicology full time at the "Viennese State Academy for Music and Dramatic Art" (Wiener Staatsakademie für Musik und dramatische Kunst). No, he attended the university of Vienna instead and studied law. He became a Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) in 1934 and practiced in a law firm. Yet music was always on his mind. As a sideline Prawy studied music with famous musicologist and composer Egon Wellesz (1885-1974), who himself had studied with musicologist Guido Adler (1855-1941) and with Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951). In 1938 Wellesz left for Great Britain (and took up a post at the University of Oxford in 1943). It was clear that after Wellesz had left Marcel Prawy had to decide what he was going to do next.

At right the label of the 78 RPM shellac disc with Jan Kiepura singing "Oh Madonna!" accompanied by the Parlophon-Künstler-Orchester (Parlophone Artists Orchestra) Dr. Weissmann conducting, reference 11 007. That was in 1934, well before Marcel Prawy became personal secretary.

In 1938 Jan Kiepura made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Marcel Prawy, now personal secretary to the famous couple, planned to join him.

The political situation in Austria was getting grimmer and grimmer and those who planned to leave the country should not hesitate.
As a young man, conductor
Thor Johnson studied in Europe and followed courses and masterclasses given by Bruno Walter and Nicolai Malko. Johnson stayed in Salzburg, Vienna, and in Leipzig during the season of 1936-1937. In a letter to his parents Johnson described the prewar situation in Austria:

"Austria is one of the poorest countries of Europe. The streets are filled with cripples and beggars and Vienna is considerably run down. The war (WW I, ed.) certainly took its toll. The only man who seems to have had any ability to do anything for Austria was Dollfuss and the Nazis took his life because they realized his importance." - Thor Johnson in a letter to his parents dated May 23, 1937. (Thor Johnson, American Conductor, by Louis Nicholas, 1982.)

And another witness, Kitty Werthmann)*, an Austrian World War II survivor, explained that there was 30 percent unemployment, 25 percent inflation, 25 percent interest on loans. There were winers in the streets and housing blocks had been burned down obviously by lack of funds to repair or to rebuild. Austria had lost World War I and was broke. Although the Treaty of Versailles stipulated that Austria had to pay reparations to the Allied Powers, in 1922 it was decided in Geneva that Austria had to follow an austerity course.

That was disastrous for the country. The bad economic situation gave the Nazis a growing influence. In an attempt to counteract this, Chancellor (Bundeskanzler) Engelbert Dollfuss had instated his dictatorship and banned the Austrian Nazi Party and also excluded the social democrats who often take a wrong or biased decision in the name of democracy. Dollfuss took sides with Musolini and thus wanted to prevent a takeover by Hitler but was assassinated on July 24, 1934. He was succeeded by Kurt von Schuschnigg who followed the same policy and was opposed to Hitler's plan to annex Austria. But to no avail. That is how things stood in the second half of the 1930s.

Jan Kiepura was a very popular artist who starred in several movies. He was not too fluent in English and he had a heavy Polish accent when speaking German. So his dialogues of the movies he appeared in had to be dubbed with the voice of another actor. That actor was Robert Valberg. After Prawy had become Kiepura's secretary he supervised the synchronisation sessions together with Robert Valberg in Vienna.

As Jan Kiepura was engaged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, migration to the US was the obvious move for Prawy to make. This became the more urgent when on March 12, 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany and practically immediately Jews were harrassed in the streets. The new Nazi government meant important changes and restrictions for all Austrian citizens. The day after the Annexation (Anschluss) it was announced that actor Robert Valberg - with whom Prawy had worked while synchronizing and editing Kiepura's latest movie - was appointed Director of the Federal State's Chamber of Artists (Landesleiter der Reichstheaterkammer) and Cultural Advisor for the City of Vienna (Kulturbeirat der Stadt Wien). This came as a shock to many and also to Prawy who had never suspected that the man, with whom he was on friendly terms, was a Nazi. However, it was that same Robert Valberg, who arranged for the necessary official documents for Prawy to quickly leave the country. Together with Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth, he left for Italy. From there they traveled separately by boat to the United States. Prawy was registered at Ellis Island (New York).

Strangely enough Jan Kiepura and Marcel Prawy returned to Germany for a short while later in 1939 in order to collect important private belongings and documents at Kiepura's address in Berlin. This undertaking was certainly not without risk. They travelled by car and the closer they came to Berlin, the more they realized this and decided not to continue their trip. They did an about turn and left the country and Europe as quickly as possible. They reached New York later in 1939. Marcel Prawy had a permit to stay and he also obtained an affidavit for his father, who came to America as well, but died there a few years later. Dr. Richard Frydmann von Prawy, 1882-1942.

Since 1933 dark clouds gathered over Europe. In the years before the outbreak of World War II, many scientists, musicians, composers, performers, and artists fled to America. Many were well known or became famous after the war. They were of various nationalities.
Many names were linked in some way or other to the Austrian-Hungarian-German music culture: Robert Stolz (conductor), Oscar Strauss (composer/conductor), Paul Abraham (composer), Emmerich Kalman (composer), Erich Wolfgang Korngold (composer/conductor), Béla Bartók (composer), Andor Foldes (pianist), Fritz Busch (conductor), and many, many more. Marcel Prawy got to know them personally and remained friends with Stolz, Korngold, Kálmán, Strauss, and others.

Not all were in a position to perform or have their works performed to earn some sort of living. There were exceptions: Robert Stolz conducted in New York. Fritz Busch led the New Opera Company, Martha Eggert and Jan Kiepura sang at the Met. In 1940 Mártha Eggerth sang in the Broadway musical Higher and Higher. In the 1943-1944 season the couple played in the Broadway production of the operetta The Merry Widow (Die Lustige Witwe by Franz Lehar). Martha Eggerth also went to Hollywood. She appeared in For Me And My Gall (1942) as Eve Minard, and in Presenting Lilly Mars (1943) as Isobel Rekay.

Many immigrants produced cultural gatherings for other immigrants in New York, and with success. Donald Gabor knew Martha Eggert and he asked her to make a few recordings for his Continental label which he later released on Continental CLP 2012.
Gabor also recorded pianist Andor Foldes. And he made the now famous recordings of Béla Bartók and his wife Ditta Pásztory in their home in New York.
It was through Marta Eggert that Donald Gabor met Marcel Prawy, a meeting which would have great consequencies several years later.

The United States of America Certificate of Nationalization of Marcel Prawy (white, male, ruddy complexion, 5 foot 11.5 inches tall) was issued on November 2, 1943 in Maryland.

Like George Curtiss (later director of the New England Record Corporation in Webster, Massachusetts), also Marcel Prawy enlisted in the US Army in 1943 and obtained US citizenship. From then on Prawy was no longer secretary of the famous movie couple, but became an instructor in the army. He taught languages, history, and customs of European countries to recruits so they would be prepared when they came to Europe.

In 1944 Prawy was first sent to England were he entertained the American troops together with cabarettist/pianist/composer Georg Kreisler (a sample of the latter's art are the "Nichtarische Arien" - Not Arian Arias - recorded in 1966). From England Prawy went to Paris. There too Prawy and Kreisler performed their musical reviews they partly had written together.

When the Germans had finally capitulated in May 1945, Prawy was stationed in Germany and for a short while in Bordeaux in France. In 1946 he returned to Vienna. From May 1946 till 1950 he was a "military civilian" and as such became editor of "Welt im Film" (The World in Pictures), the adaptation of the American-British news reel, to which he added more items about music than about politics, he later confessed in his book "Marcel Prawy erzählt aus seinem Leben" (Marcel Prawy talks about his life).

Marcel Prawy in the nineteen seventies when he prepared a special Series of LPs for Deutsche Grammophon containing Opera Highlights taken from recordings of complete operas from the DGG catalog.

Picture taken from Deutsche Grammophon Lp 2532 001 - Wagner: Tristan und Isolde.
Photo credit: Will Appelt, Wien.

Marcel Prawy produced many recordings on his own account like 'Ręve de valse' (Ein Walzertraum, Dreamwaltz) by Oscar Srauss, released in France on Counterpoint CMC 120.001, the composer conducting the 'Tonkünstlerorchester', listed in 1955. The actual conductor in this recording is not Oscar Strauss who was already very old, yet very satisfied with the way Max Schönherr conducted the music.

The conversations between Donald Gabor and Marcel Prawy in New York resonated at the end of the nineteen forties when Gabor contacted Prawy and asked him to produce recordings to be released on his newly founded Remington Records label. They made a deal.
From 1950 on Prawy produced numerous recordings with the Orchestra of the Viennese Symphonic Society which is also called Austrian Symphony Orchestra, Niederösterreichisches Sinfonieorchester (Symphony Orchestra of Lower Austria), and Tonkünstler Orchester.

When Prawy mentioned in his correspondence the recordings made with Gaspar Cassado, Kurt Wöss and George Singer, he calls the orchestra "Vienna Pro Arte Orchestra". He had a two year contract with the orchestra. Conductors were Fritz Busch, Hine Arthur Brown, Kurt Wöss, Wilhelm Loibner, Gustav Koslik, Felix Prohaska, Paul Walter, George Singer, Anton Paulik, Max Schönherr, and Hans Wolf, to name a few. And he had a contract with the Orchestra of the Salzburg Mozarteum.

About his productions, Prawy wrote in a letter dated July 31, 1950:

After three years of military duty with the U.S.Army (1943-1946) and three years civilian duty with Military Government for Austria (1946-1949, Assistant Films Officer for Austria) I am now executive employee with Continental Record Company Inc.(...)
My weekly earnings since my separation from Military Government have averaged ATS (Austrian Schilling) 100. They are bound to take a sharp increase as I am working on salary plus commission and have produced in the last months approximately 80 records which will go on sale in August only with 10% for me in addition to my salary.

The first batch of recordings was released in the fall of 1950, and certainly not all eighty productions. Prawy also made deals with performing artists and artists of the younger generation, those who just had finished their studies in Vienna.
Prawy even asked conductor Paul Sacher to make recordings for the Remington label and, in a letter, tried to convince him by mentioning that recordings had been made with George Enesco; Bela Bartok interpreting his own compositions; Giuseppe de Luca singing arias; Walter Schneiderhan playing Mendelssohn`s Violin Concerto and Beethoven Sonatas; Giovanni Martinelli and Karin Branzell singing arias and songs; Andor Foldes with a special piano album; Robert Stolz conducting his own works; Jan Kiepura in The Merry Widow (Lustige Witwe); Oscar Strauss conducting Viennese music; and a series of "great symphonies conducted by the excellent conductor"
H. Arthur Brown had been completed.

Prawy talked as if he was involved with the Bartok, Enesco and Foldes recordings which were made by Don Gabor in America. However, he could have been present when Bartok and Foldes made the recordings. It is known that Prawy was an able negotiator and also someone who liked to give importance to himself as well as the cause he was working for. In this case Continental Records Inc.

Marcel Prawy discovered and contracted pianist Jörg Demus for his first recordings ever, with works of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert. Prawy also approached young pianist Alexander Jenner who, in 1949, had won the "Bösendorfer-Preisflügel" (Bösendorfer Grand Piano Prize), which was awarded by the famous Viennese piano manufacturer to the best student. It was the obvious recommendation to have Alexander Jenner to make his debut recordings for Remington. Alexander Jenner told me: "Mr. Prawy would ask you to study, say Beethoven's 'Diabelli Variations', and to be ready in two weeks time for a recording session."

The sessions arranged by Prawy in Vienna produced material to be released on the Remington label for which also pianists Frieda Valenzi, Hilde Somer, Fritz Weidlich, and Felicitas Karrer performed. These recordings were often released on Gabor's Plymouth and Merit labels as well. Prawy recorded cellists Gaspar Cassado and Richard Matuschka, and violinists Michèle Auclair, Eva Hitzker, Helen Airoff, Walter Schneiderhan, and Gérard Poulet. He made recordings or obtained radio recordings of the many artists who can be found on the Remington releases starting at R-199-1 with pianist Felicitas Karrer performing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, up to and about R-199-128 on which Michèle Auclair plays 'Kreisler Favorites' and Gaspar Cassado plays 'Cello Encores. And there is R-199-130, the record of Gustav Koslik conducting the Austrian Symphony Orchestra in 'Polovetsian Dances' from Prince Igor (Borodin) and 'Night on Bald Mountain' (Mussorgsky).

The first "Fritz Busch Album", a gatefold with the recordings of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 and Joseph Haydn's "The Clock" appeared in the luxurious series with crocodile skin pattern. After Fritz Busch had died these recordings were available as the "Fritz Busch Memorial Album" in a differently styled cover. Both releases had the reference number MW 39.
Another release was with baritone Paul Schoeffler (who sang at the Wiener Staatsoper fromn 1937 till 1965) and cellist Gaspar Cassado.
A unique recording of Volkmar Andreae at 70 years of age: Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 on Masterseal MW-40, released in the Fall of 1951
Vittorio Gui conducts Mendelssohn Bartholdy's 'Reformation Symphony' (No. 5) and Hebrides Overture. MW-49, released in August of 1952

Masterseal MW 46:

Korngold by Korngold, released in the Spring of 1952

All luxurious Masterseal editions
bear the emblem
"A Marcel Prawy Production".

Varèse-Sarabande issued VC 81040 with the tapes from which the original Masterseal MW 46 was cut. It is likely that the recordings of the Masterseal LP were produced for the Austrian Broadcasting Services by Marcel Prawy together with Erich Wolfgang von Korngold himself. The luxurious Masterseal bears the emblem "A Marcel Prawy Production".
The Srauss Dynasty - Music by the various members of the Strauss family conducted by Oscar Strauss who also lived in New York during World War Two. Masterseal MW-48. But apparently not at all conducted by Oscar Strauss but by Clemens Krauss, Max Schönherr, Kurt Wöss, Robert Stolz, Felix Guenther.

A few of Prawy's productions were released on the Masterseal label in the early years. These were special editions not styled by Alex Steinweiss or another artist who would be in charge. The records were offered in luxurious gatefold covers with a luxurious snake skin pattern and liner notes originally written by Marcel Prawy himself. The most famous ones are the Busch Memorial Album, and the recording with cellist Gaspar Cassado playing gems and accompanying baritone Paul Schoeffler (Masterseal MW-45). On Masterseal MW-49 it is Vittorio Gui who conducts Mendelssohn Bartholdy's 'Reformation Symphony' and Hebrides Overture released in the Summer of 1952, and on Masterseal MW-50 he conducts Great Overtures of Rossini, Cherubini and Wolf-Ferrari. The pressings were done on quality vinyl, not the cheap substitute used for the Remingtons. Therefor prices were high, $6.45 for a 12 inch LP record.

Marcel Prawy miming a gesture with his left hand as saying "Attention... here is the passage"

From right to left: Dr. Hans Sachs, Marcel Prawy, Prof. Fritz Busch, and two unidentified persons (probably an official of the orchestra and a recording technician) during the playback of a recording.
Image courtesy KHM-Museumsverband, Vienna.

Other Masterseal releases were Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 with conductor Volkmar Andreae (Masterseal MW-40); "Erich Wolfgang Korngold plays Korngold", an LP on which the composer plays the piano, and soprano Hilde Zadek and tenor Anton Dermota sing, while Wilhelm Loibner conducts the "Austrian State Symphony" (Masterseal MW-46). On MW-42 Vittorio Gui conducts "Great German Overtures". And there are the recordings by Oscar Strauss on MW-47 and 48, and of course the Fritz Busch Memorial Album (MW-39). All special recordings.

Many recordings were re-released on the Vibraton label in the nineteen sixties and seventies. These records were pressed in Italy from new matrices on a better quality vinyl.
The special Masterseal series with noteworthy recordings produced by Marcel Prawy all bore an emblem with his name instead of the name of Donald H. Gabor.

The collaboration between Marcel Prawy and Don Gabor lasted until the beginning of 1953. It was then that Donald was offered to have Berlin as the main recording venue and tape performances of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra.
Marcel Prawy writes in his biography:

"(...) between 1950 and 1955, I made many recordings, mostly for the American firm "Remington", of which Donald and Wally Gabor from New York were the founders, who, for the first time, wanted to release a budget series of the newly invented LP. I made many records on my own account. There was a contract with the 'Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstlerorchester'. (...) On my records conducted the great conductors Fritz Busch and Vittorio Gui. Anton Dermota, Paul Schoeffler, Astrid Varnay were singing."

In the beginning several records were produced together with conductor Hans Wolf who also had fled to America and had enlisted in the US Army. After World War II Hans Wolf (1913-2005) had come back to Europe, but returned to the US for good after making recording six works for the Remington label, among others César Franck's Symphony in D, Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Symphony No. 2 by Johannes Brahms, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Haffner" Symphony, all with "The Austrian Symphony Orchestra". And he recorded Haydn's Cello Concerto with Gaspar Cassado.

It truly was a budget series. The Remington recordings made in Austria give evidence that Prawy was more concerned about recording an artist, an orchestra, the composition, and adding another work to his and Gabor's catalog, than he cared about the quality of the sound recording per se. Prawy tried to sell his recordings also to radio stations in Sweden and Germany (RIAS), and to other recording companies in England and the USA (Capitol) but to no avail.

When the collaboration with Remington Records had ended, Donald Gabor wrote a Letter of Recommendation on the stationery of his Record Corporation of New England, Webster, Massachusetts:

January 14, 1954


This is to certify that Mr. Marcel Prawy was employed as director and producer of musical recordings by our division, Remington Records, Inc.

Mr. Prawy started for us on January 17, 1950 and was employed until December 1953 and was paid on a weekly basis the sum of $500.

We were extremely satisfied with Mr. Prawy's unique talent and loyalty and it is a pleasure to recommend him for any position which he would undertake."

Very truly yours,
Donald H. Gabor,

The conversion rate of the US$ to Austrian Schilling was 1 to 20 at the time. The weekly payment of $500 was about 10.000 Austrian Schillings in 1951, and even more on the black market. Prawy had to pay orchestras, conductors, musicians, technicians, rent recording venues and pay for additional production costs. Counting the data given in 'Die Tonkünstler' (the history of the orchestra from 1907 until 2007 the year of publication by Residenz Velag in Vienna) it shows that there were 145 sessions led by Marcel Prawy. It is clear that his business with Gabor made him a well-to-do man.

December 1953 is the end of Prawy's contract. The recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms Violin Concertos performed by American violinist Albert Spalding were recorded one year earlier, in November 1952. These recordings were produced by Laszlo Halasz who had travelled to Vienna to supervise the recordings. It is understood that Marcel Prawy was co-producer.

After the contract with Gabor had ended, Prawy tried to sell his "musical recordings" to radio stations and other interested parties but without significant success. It is clear that Remington was the only record company who released his recordings apart from a few recordings issued in Germany (on the Opera label, Bertelsmann) and in France (on Counterpoint).

These early years of producing were significant for Prawy's later career and his experiences paid off. In 1955 he became a member of the board of directors of the 'Volksoper' and he dared to introduce 'the musical' to the conservative Viennese public by staging Cole Porter's 'Kiss me Kate', followed by Leonard Bernstein's 'Wonderful Town' (1956), Irving Berlin's 'Annie, Get your Gun' (1957), and Leonard Bernstein's 'West Side Story' (1968), and many more.

Leontyne Price and
William Warfield.
Picture taken from the RCA LP release with highlights from Porgy and Bess.

In 1952 the American Opera Company toured Europe performing George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and also visited Vienna. Prawy had first seen 'Porgy and Bess', the revival production, in New York in 1942 and he could have seen the 1944 production at the New York City Center before he, as an information officer, was sent back to Europe with the US Army. In that 1952 production the role of Porgy was played and sung by William Warfield whom Prawy had met in the army. Bess was the young and newly discovered star, soprano Leontyne Price. It was the first Blevins Davis/ Robert Breen production. (The second production of Porgy and Bess toured Europe one year later, in 1956).

This picture appeared in Etude Magazine of July, 1955. The caption reads, "Maestro Ormandy and William Warfield, noted Negro baritone, with several orchestra members about to board their plane." The Philadelphia Orchestra flew to Europe with KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, as is indicated by the lettering "The Flying Dutchman" above the windows.

And it is likely that William Warfield also came to Vienna in 1955 when the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Eugene Ormandy toured Europe and visited the Austrian capital. An article in Etude Magazine of July, 1955, mentions: "William Warfield, baritone and the only American soloist to accompany the orchestra, was the featured artist in seven (...) programs."

Ten years later, in 1965, Marcel Prawy himself produced 'Porgy and Bess' with the Wiener Volksoper. It was the complete, original version and the first complete version since the premiere in Boston. Therefor it is said that Marcel Prawy set the trend to perform 'Porgy and Bess' as a full length opera and not as an abbreviated musical, already many years before the Metropolitain Opera did. In that production of 1965 Olive Moorefield was Bess. Porgy was again Prawy's army friend William Warfield.

Marcel Prawy's recollection:

"I owe a deep insight into the creativity of George Gershwin to a wonderful man with whom I became friends in New York. There his name was Albert Sirmai (originally written as Szirmay, ed.) (...) managing director of the famous Chappell Publishing Company and who earlier had been in close collaboration with George Gershwin. Nearly all Gershwin's piano scores show his name as a publisher. Countless times I have visited him after office hours at Chapell's and did not get tired to listen to his stories about George Gershwin. Because of his inadequate classical music studies, Gershwin suffered from poor selfesteem, and was a Wagnerian, and Sirmai had always to explain the technique of the 'Leitmotiv' (leading motif) of his idol. He (Sirmai. ed.) once showed me a 'Meistersinger' opera vocal score with Gershwin's written remarks. "Porgy" is indeed the only opera which exists with the most 'leading motifs' ever.

The premiere performance in the year 1935 in the Alvin Theatre was no good - except for the leading performers Todd Duncan and Anne Brown. And when I came to America in 1939 people still said to me (...) that Porgy, the last (composition) of Gershwin, was nothing.(...) Than they remodeled "Porgy and Bess", inserted spoken dialog (these are hardly present in the original), the heavy chorusses were abridged, and changed it into a musical. That was an immense triumph in 1942. (...) I was present. Suddenly there was a musical which had less similarity with Gershwin's opera, but had started a triumphant tour.

I was the first who said to director Moser of the "Volksoper":
"What in fact about the original which was never performed? As an opera house we have all the possibilities - Gershwin never did have these. Why don't we do that for the first time in Vienna?"
Moser agreed. And in 1965 we did produce for the first time the original score of "Porgy and Bess", as a large, heavy opera with a large orchestra, big chorusses, with these difficult things to sing, for the first time in the world on October 19, 1965, at the Volksoper. (Olive) Moorefield was Bess, William Warfield Porgy, and I was very proud of the headline in an American newspaper: "Vienna gave Gershwin what America did refuse him." - Marcel Prawy

See also Porgy and Bess)

Albert Sirmai (2 July 1880 –15 January 1967) was a Hungarian composer of songs and operettas who went to live in the US in 1923.

Prawy's career was gaining more and more importance. He became a famous television presenter and as such was nicknamed 'Mister Oper'. He supervised and compiled a series of opera records for Deutsche Grammophon, engaged famous stars and discovered new talents. He wrote many books and was dramaturg at the State Opera (Staatsoper). He was one of Vienna's most remarkable figures who left an imprint on the cultural life and on the lives of many artists, opera singers, conductors, musicians, stars, and in the early nineteen fifties on Gabor's Remington Records.

Like mystery writer Cornell Woolrich (author of 'The Window' and 'Rear Window'), also Marcel Prawy considered living in a hotel the best way to be able to dedicate himself fully to his work. He may have taken up the habit when changing from one cheap hotel to another during his stay in New York from 1938 until 1943, he has been living in hotels ever since. He passed away on February 23, 2003, in Vienna, at the age of 91, leaving numerous documents, books, photographs and objets, all documenting the history of his own life and the musical and cultural history of Vienna over many decades.

In the nineteen thirties tenor Jan Kiepura predicted that Marcel Prawy was going to have a great career. And indeed he was.
Placido Domingo described Prawy as "an authority for everything concerning music". And that was also very true.

Text written by Rudolf A. Bruil - Page first published in December 2006.
Facts about Marcel Prawy's work for Jan Kiepura, his stay in the USA and a quotation, were taken from the book "Marcel Prawy erzählt aus seinem Leben" (Marcel Prawy talks about his life), Kremayr & Scheriau, Vienna, 2001.

NOTE Since 1938 Jan Kiepura and Martha Eggerth lived in the United States.
In 1966 Jan Kiepura died from heart failure. In 2002 Marcel Prawy invited Martha Eggerth right after her 90th birthday to come to Vienna to be honored at a Gala Performance. On the 27th of December 2013 the media reported that Martha Eggerth had died at the age of 101 in her home in Rye, north of New York.

)* Kitty Werthmann's testimony added in 2016.




Copyright 1995-2009 by Rudolf A. Bruil