The Schmooze

Richard Tauber, a Mighty, not Schmaltzy, Tenor

Today Richard Tauber, the Austrian tenor of Jewish ancestry, is a genuine icon, as the title of a splendid 5-CD box set of his recordings from EMI Classics indicates. Yet his life is a cautionary tale of how critics should reflect on the possible impact of their words.

By the 1920s, Tauber had achieved matinee idol status throughout Europe via his recordings of the operettas of Franz Lehár and Oscar Straus. The Austrian Jewish journalist Karl Kraus called Tauber “Der Schmalztenor” and meant by “Schmaltz” the less complimentary parts of what we think of as schmaltz — the slushy sentimentality.

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Richard Tauber, a Mighty, not Schmaltzy, Tenor

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