The Kennedy Center

Sigmund Romberg


Hungarian born composer, Sigmund Romberg, as so often happened, was encouraged by his parents to study for a “sensible” occupation, and was sent to Vienna to study engineering. While there Sigmund immersed himself in the rich and active musical scene, and studied composition. In 1909, at age 22 he relocated to New York, where he began his musical career playing piano in cafes. In 1912 he formed a salon orchestra, playing many of his own compositions.

The Schubert brothers, Broadway theatrical producers, began to use him as house composer for some of their many musical productions. In that capacity he worked with many of the leading Broadway lyricists, including Oscar Hammerstein, P.G. Wodehouse, and the Gershwins. His first big hit was the operetta, Maytime, (1915). There followed several more adaptations of operettas in the Viennese style, including, Blossom Time,(1921), and probably his most famous operetta, The Student Prince,(1924).

The Viennese-style operettas lost their popularity, and Romberg shifted to writing musical theater more in the style of the currently popular Broadway musicals, including Desert Song, and Up In Central Park. These shows did not have the same success as his earlier work, although the individual songs from his later shows were frequently included in “show tune” recordings released by Columbia and Capital recording companies in the 1950’s.

A number of Romberg’s operettas and shows were made into movies, often starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. A film “biography”, Deep In My Heart, starring Jose Ferrer as Romberg, was released in 1954, three years after Romberg’s death in New York.

Sigmund Romberg