Humperdinck, Engelbert

BORN 1 Sep 1854, Siegburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen - DIED 27 Sep 1921, Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
GRAVE LOCATION Stahnsdorf, Brandenburg: Südwestkirchhof, Bahnhofstrasse (Block Erlöser, am Feld 4, Erbbegräbnis 10)

Engelbert Humperdinck was born in Siegburg, near Bonn. He studied in Köln with Ferdinand Hiller. After he won the Mozart Prize of Frankfurt in 1876 he continued his studies in Munich in 1877 under Franz Lachner. In 1879 he won the Mendelssohn Prize of Berlin and in 1881 the Meyerbeer Prize of Berlin.

In 1878 he heard Wagner's Ring and he joined the Munich Wagnerian society. He met Wagner in Naples on 9 Mar 1880 and followed him to Bayreuth to become his assistant for the staging of what would be his final opera, Parsifal. Humperdinck wrote a musical interlude for a scene change that was accepted by Wagner. Later he became the musical tutor to Wagner's only son Siegfried.

In 1881 he went on a concert tour and afterwards he taught for two years at the conservatory in Barcelona. He went to Köln and Frankfurt until he settled in Essen in 1885. In 1890 he accepted a teaching position in Berlin.

Most of his own compositions had failed to attract attention, but his opera "Hänsel Und Gretel" was staged all around Germany and brought him financial independence. The idea had come from his sister Adelheid Wette, who had asked him to write the music for a libretto that she had written for her children. Humperdinck had gone a little bit further and turned it into a complete opera. With the help of Richard Strauss it was premiered at the Opera House in Weimar on 23 Dec 1893.

In 1896 he became a professor and from 1900 onwards he worked in Berlin. His opera "Die Königskinder" was first performed at the New York Metropolitan on 28 Dec 1910. He retired in 1920.

Related persons
• was a friend of D'Albert, Eugen
• was pupil to Hiller, Ferdinand
• was teacher to Holländer, Friedrich
• was pupil to Lachner, Franz von
• cooperated with Reinhardt, Max
• was pupil to Rheinberger, Josef Gabriel
• worked for Wagner, Richard
• was teacher to Wagner, Siegfried

23/12/1893Premiere of "Hänsel und Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck in Weimar. It was a fairy-tale opera and the premiere was conducted by Richard Strauss. Ferdinand Wiedey was Peter, Luise Tibelti was Gertrud, Ida Schubert was Hänsel and Marie Kayser was Gretel. Hermine Finck was the Gingerbread Witch. 
28/12/1910Premiere of "Königskinder" by Engelbert Humperdinck at the MET in New York. It was a Märchenoper with a libretto by Ernst Rosmer, the pen name of Else Bernstein-Porges. Alfred Hertz was the conductor. Among the singers were Geraldine Farrar (as the goose-girl), Louise Homer (as the witch), Herman Jadlowker, Adamo Didur, Albert Reiss and Florence Wickham. [Bernstein, Elsa]


The grave of Engelbert Humperdinck at the Südwestfriedhof, Stahnsdorf, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (13 Nov 2004)


Kulturbox Berlin, 1996
Kulturregister 19. Jh, Biographie Engelbert Humperdinck
Königskinder - Wikipedia

Hunt, Alfred William

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 16 Feb 2022