'Once There Was a Waltz': 1932 Operetta for Film with songs especially written for Marta Eggerth by Franz Lehar

'Once There Was a Waltz'

'Once There Was a Waltz'
1932 Operetta for Film with songs especially written for Marta Eggerth by Franz Lehár

"Once There Was a Waltz"! - "Es war einmal ein Walzer" Book: Billie Wilder - Music: Franz Lehár - 1932 Operetta for Film -songs especially written for Marta Eggerth. Showing historic film clips and telling the story about those who created the artistry and genius in the early European sound movies. Compiled and researched by Jane Knox-Kiepura and Marjan Kiepura.

These two clips show the huge talent and versatility in the comedy and musical genius of an era past and one that must never be forgotten. The title in Argentina was Café Vienes and in Spain Erase una vez un Vals. It is the Argentine film title "Café Vienes" that survived. With so many films having been lost or destroyed we are so grateful that this still exists.

The Plot

Two families are trying to arrange a marriage between their son and daughter to avoid bankruptcy, each believing the other is wealthy. Elaborate preparations are made just to find out that both families are broke and besides, Lucie the daughter played by Lizzie Natzler is in love with a musician played by the dashing Ernst Verebes. In the meantime, Rudi, the son, meets Steffi who is played by Marta Eggerth at a show suitably called "Es War einmal ein Walzer". Rudi, had dropped a second ticket to the show on the street in the hope that the right person would find it and sure enough that happened to be Marta. It was love at first sight but short lived and by the next day both were broken hearted without knowing each other's names. Marta in Clip 1 is alone and sad but sings "There are still Fairy Tales in this world". Clip 2 shows Marta still despondent but needing to help her father sell tickets to fill up his tour bus which she does and sings with a happy face. Her father, played by Paul Hörbiger, sings "Rundfahrtmarsch" "Tour March" as he points out famous Viennese landmarks. Everyone ends up happy in the end!

Clip 1

In clip 1 Marta Eggerth is singing- "Es gibt noch Märchen auf dieser Welt" trans: "There are still fairytales in this world" Music: Franz Lehár Text: Fritz Rotter and Armin Robinson

German text:

Es gibt noch Märchen auf dieser Welt,
Ich suche eins, das mir gefällt.
Es müsst ein wunderschönes Märchen sein,
Ein kleines bisschen Sonnenschein,
Dann tausch'Ich es für nichts auf Erden ein
Es gibt noch Märchen in dieser Zeit,
Heut' sind sie nah', doch morgen weit.
Ein kleiner Zufall bringt sie dir ins Haus,
Oft wird das grosse Glück darus
Doch oft ist so ein Märchen wieder aus

Franz Lehár - Lyrics: Fritz Rotter & Armin Robinson

English Translation

There are still fairytales in this world,
I'm searching for one that I might like;
It has to be a wonderful fairytale,
A little burst of sunshine,
One I'd never part with for anything on earth;
There are still fairytales in our times;
So near today, but tomorrow so far
One small stroke of luck brings them to your door;
And great happiness will overflow
But then fairytales so quickly slip away

Spanish translation

Cuentos de hadas existen aún
Voy a buscar uno ideal
Maravilloso éste debe ser
Un rayito de sol traer
Y así por nada yo lo cambiaré
Cuentos de hadas existen aún
Hoy cerca están, lejos después,
Por accidente pueden suceder
y la felicidad traer
Y así el cuento de hadas renacer!

Clip 2

Franz Pirzinger - Steffi's father played by the very talented Paul Hörbiger, runs a tourist bus. Here he is telling his brokenhearted daughter, played by Marta Eggerth, to put on her happy face to find tourists as he needs to fill his bus. She puts on her smiley face and sings:

For 10 schillings you will see all Vienna,
A city full of elegant sights,
Vienna in the nighttime, Vienna in the day,
Vienna in all its sorrow and joys alike.

Paul Hörbiger in the role of Bus driver sings:

"Rundfahrtmarsch" music: Franz Lehár - Lyrics: Fritz Rotter & Armin Robinson

Was Sie links und rechts hier sehn
So märchenhaft und schön,
Das ist die Hauptstadt Wien.
Sie sehen Wien bei Tag, Sie sehn Wien bei Nacht,
Sie sehen Wien, wie's weint und lacht.
Dies Haus, das doch jeder Wiener kennt
Ist das weltberühmte Parlament!
Dann fahr'n wir nach Schönbrunn
Und nach Grinzing 'raus
Jeder bringt sich von dort einen Schwips nach Haus.
Die wunderbare Fahrt führt ins Märchenland,
Dies Land is mit Wien nämlich nah verwandt.

Translation from German text:

Tour March

What you see, to left and right,
So magical and beautiful,
Is the great city of Vienna.
We see Vienna by day, we see Vienna by night
Look at Vienna, and how it weeps and laughs.
This building, as anyone from Vienna knows,
Is the world-renowned Parliament!
Then off we go to Schönbrunn
And out of town to Grinzing,
From where everyone comes home a little tipsy.
The wonderful journey takes us to Fairyland,
The land that could so easily be Vienna.

Translation from the Spanish subtitles slightly different:

This is beautiful Vienna,
Queen of the Danube.
Here you have the University
And over there, the Parliament.
Then we'll head on to Schönbrunn
And then to Grinzing for a drink or two.
There is the Prater ferris-wheel
Where you can sing and embrace
In the arms of a beautiful woman.

Talking of Grinzing, the old wine village outside Vienna, below is a fascinating photo taken on July 24 1932 at Grinzing at the famous Hungarian haunt "Pataky Gardens" where they played jazz and Hungarian music - this might well have been a celebration for the success of "Es war einmal ein Walzer" and "Where is this Lady?" or just the way the Hungarian community enjoyed life in Vienna with family and friends.... The photo description recognizes a few of the celebrities including:

 historic newspaper  photo taken on July 24 1932 at Grinzing at a famous Hungarian venue 'Pataki'
The photo was published in newspaper Pesti Napló, July 24, 1932

Artúr Lajos Halmi (1866-1939) the famous painter on a visit from the USA , next to him is Tilly Herzog Eggerth, Marta's mother, next to Franz Lehár and Marta Eggerth. Also in photo according to description the famous lyricist Heinz Reichert who wrote the libretto of Puccini's La Rondine, Das Dreimäderlhaus, Operetta and film with music by Franz Schubert(1797-1828) and several movies for Marta including Lehár's "Wo die Lerche singt" and "Der Zarewitsch". Also mentioned are the wives of Franz Lehár, Sophie Lehár, Heinz Reichert's wife , and Artúr Lajos Halmi's wife Róza Kaddisch

To conclude Part II of the first Operetta that Franz Lehár wrote exclusively for film we need to appreciate the early European films, the music, the comedy, the cinematography and artistry. Historically it is fascinating to think that many of the artists, cast, crew, writers and lyricists had been born into the multilingual, multicultural and multi ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. A world that, chronologically speaking, started around 1867 and ended by 1918. However, those born in that period were nonetheless at the top of their game between the World Wars. It would be gone forever when so many had to flee upon the rise of Nazism.

Below we name just a few from this film whose lives were changed forever. They were involved not only in this film but in so many other films with Marta Eggerth and Jan Kiepura.

Heinrich Gärtner/Enrique Guerner (1895 - 1962) (cinematographer, Die Bräutigamswitwe, Trara um Liebe, Es war einmal ein Walzer, Das Blaue vom Himmel) - Romanian (at the time Austria-Hungary) -> exiled to Spain and Portugal, established in Spain where he became one of the main cinematographers of postwar cinema and nationalised as a Spanish citizen

Paul Hörbiger (1894-1981)other films with Marta Eggerth include Princess Csardas. Paul Hörbiger is recognized for having aided in the escape of Jews in Austria and ultimately arrested but ultimately released. He was known for his role in the 1949 production of "The Third Man" - he was a very popular post war German speaking actor.

Jacek Rotmil (1888 - 1944) Films with Marta Eggerth/Jan Kiepura (art director, Der Draufgänger, Es war einmal ein Walzer, Das Blaue vom Himmel) - Russian -> arrested and executed in Poland in 1944

Fritz Rotter (1900 - 1984) (lyrics, Trara um Liebe, Moderne Mitgift, Ein Lied für dich) - Austrian -> exiled to (Austria), England, then to the USA, where he continued writing music and screenplays, died in Switzerland

László (Ladislao) Vajda (1906 - 1965) F (director, Where is this Lady?) - Editor: Es War einmal ein Walzer Hungarian -> exiled to Italy then to Spain, where he became a prominent director and took Spanish citizenship. He is shown in this film "Es War einmal ein Walzer" as an Editor - L. Vadya but no doubt played a more prominent role as he was considered to be a Director when he went to the UK to make the English version "Where is this Lady?

Ernö/Ernst Verebes (1902 - 1971) American-Hungarian) (Trara um Liebe, Es war einmal ein Walzer, Traum von Schönbrunn, Das blaue vom Himmel, Die Blume von Hawaii)-> exiled to America where his career declined. Like so many he had been a big star in Europe. Coincidentally he ended up in Los Angeles like his co - star from Es War einmal ein Walzer Lizzie Natzler.

Lizzi/Litzie Natzler - Austrian (7 Sept 1909-1993) Actress starred in Es War einmal ein Walzer -> exiled to USA - married Manuel Tortosa. Died Los Angeles California January 26 1993 - Lizzie Natzler Tortosa January 26 1993

Armin Lackenbach (Robinson) was born on February 23, 1900 in Vienna, Austria. He was an Austrian music publisher and lyricist. He fled the Nazi regime in 1934 and moved to Zurich, Switzerland. In 1938, he went into exile in the United States returning to Switzerland after World War II. Robinson died on September 12, 1985 in Bad Ischl, Austria.

Billy Wilder (1906 -2002) (writer, Es war einmal ein Walzer, Das blaue vom Himmel) - Austro-Hungarian (now Poland) - exiled to Paris and the USA, where he naturalized as an American citizen and became one of the most prominent screenwriters and directors of the time. While Billy Wilder needs no introduction thanks to great movies like "Some like it Hot" with Marilyn Monroe it is important to understand his very successful early movies with Marta Eggerth.

Written and compiled by Jane Knox-Kiepura and Marjan Kiepura

We want to thank Dr. Thomas Gayda, Edmund Knox, Thomas Krebs, András Szentpéteri and my Catalan friend, Sonia in Barcelona, who have all helped with translations from and to English, Hungarian, German and Spanish.

Stay tuned for the exciting and happy finale to the story of "Once there was a Waltz" with more clips.

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