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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Wednesday, December 16

Reznicek of the Mounties?

Synopsis

Nostalgic fans of old-time radio and TV shows will have no trouble recognizing the overture to Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek’s comic opera “Donna Diana” as the signature theme for Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, an adventure series set in the far North which chronicled the exploits of a Royal Canadian Mountie and his loyal husky, Yukon King.

This music, however, had its real birth on today’s date in the year 1894 at the New German Theater of Prague, when Reznicek’s opera had its first performance. Reznicek wrote a number of other operas, but “Donna Diana” was his one international hit. Gustav Mahler thought highly of it, and conducted its premiere in Vienna in 1904.

In 1932, Reznicek and another famous composer, Richard Strauss, formed an international society for composers. When Reznicek resisted a Nazi takeover of that organization in 1942, the 82 year-old was punished by having his music confiscated by the Propaganda Ministry. His death three years later amid the bombed-out rubble of Berlin was a sad one. Reznicek died in 1945 of typhoid fever aggravated by starvation.

A tragic end for a composer best known for such light-hearted music!

Music Played in Today's Program

Emil von Reznicek (1860 – 1945) Donna Diana Overture Symphony Nova Scotia; Georg Tintner, cond. CBC 5167

Additional Information

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