Erkel, Franz


Composer and conductor, called the creator of Hungarian national opera. He was born at Gyula, Hungary. He early showed musical talent, and worked at the piano with the assistance of his father, a good amateur musician. At the age of twenty-four he became director of an opera troupe which went to Budapest, where several years later he became conductor of the National Theatre, just then opened. Here he produced his operas, which scored a popular success from the first, due as much to the fact that they embodied the national airs of Hungary, as to their real musical value. He also founded and conducted the Philharmonic concerts and was head professor of piano and orchestration at the National Musical Academy. Erkel's musical activities continued nearly to his eightieth year, during which time he was most highly esteemed by the entire nation. Of the nine or ten operas produced by him, Hunyady Laszlo is the most popular and Bank-Ban Is considered his best as a whole.  He also left a number of songs, which, as well as his operas, are expressive of the national spirit.