The Merry Widow (original title: Die lustige Witwe) was the work that brought Franz Lehár (1870-1948) to international attention. Premièred in Vienna in 1905, it soon went on to conquer the stages of the world. Up to that point Lehár had eked out an existence as a military bandmaster and enjoyed only moderate success as a composer of operetta. But all that changed with The Merry Widow. His subsequent works include Der Graf von Luxemburg (The Count of Luxembourg), Zigeunerliebe (Gypsy Love) and Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles). In the 1920s and 30s Lehár found a strong advocate in tenor Richard Tauber, who further popularised his music not only in Austria and Germany, but also in the English-speaking world.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra