Werner Heymann

Werner Heymann was born in Konigsberg, Germany (East Prussia) on February 14, 1896.  The youngest of five children, he grew up in a musical family, and by the age of three he was spending most of his time playing piano; by twelve he became second violinist of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Konigsberg.  He wrote many lyrical songs and symphonic works, with his first major composition being “Fruhlingsnotturno.”  His “Rhapsodische Symphonie” was performed in 1918 with the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra.  Heymann studied with Paul Juon in Berlin, where he wrote cabaret songs and became Music Director of all UFA movie theaters.  In 1929 he composed for the first full-length sound film in Germany, Melodie des Herzens, and until 1933 he was the most famous composer of film operettas in Germany.  Heymann was interested in culture of all sorts, and his house was open to actors, poets, politicians, and noblemen.  He refused to write propaganda music for the Nazis, and in 1933 fled to Paris, where he wrote operettas for the Bouffes Parisiens. 

In 1936 he moved to Hollywood and composed for many pictures, including Always Together, Appointment in Berlin, Bedtime Story, Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, Caravan, Congress Dances, Hail the Conquering Hero, Hold That Blonde, It’s in the Bag!, The King and the Chorus Girl, A Night to Remember, Ninotchka, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, The Shop Around the Corner, They All Kissed the Bride, Topper Returns, The Wife Takes a Flyer, and A Woman of Distinction.  Some of his Academy Award® nominations were for One Million B.C., That Uncertain Feeling, andTo Be or Not to Be.  He returned to Europe in 1950, and he died in Munich on May 30, 1961.  He summed himself up the following way:  “I love my wife, my child, the world, people, animals, landscape, to eat, to drink, to smoke, to drive, to cook, books.  I love liberty.  I hate dictature, ungodliness, writing notes, wool on my body and little stones in my shoes.”   

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