||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (December 2009)|
He studied law, but his life belonged to the opera. As secretary of the tenor Jan Kiepura, he emigrated to the USA when persecution of the Austrian Jews became unbearable in the late 1930s. With the help of his confidante Mártha Eggerth he became acquainted with American musicals and music in general. After the end of the Second World War, Prawy returned to Vienna and brought with him the musical Kiss Me, Kate. It was received by the Viennese with great reservation as they feared the arrival of the American-style musical would spell the end of the traditional Viennese operetta. Nonetheless, Prawy succeeded and was considered henceforth as the one who made German language musicals acceptable and popular.
From 1955 on Prawy served as dramaturg at the Vienna Volksoper and from 1972 as chief-dramaturg at the Vienna State Opera. Between 1976 and 1982 Prawy was a professor at the Viennese College of Music (Wiener Musikhochschule, today Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien) and lecturer in the field of theatre science at the University of Vienna. He also gave lectures as guest professor at numerous American and Japanese universities.
He became widely known and highly regarded because of a television and radio broadcast series produced by the ORF, where he introduced his viewers and listeners to the world of opera and operetta with outstanding knowledge of the subject matter and marvelous humor. Marcel Prawy maintained close friendships with many prominent singers, composers and musicians, such as Leonard Bernstein and Robert Stolz. He was awarded numerous awards and honours by the nation and internationally, including becoming honorary citizen of Vienna and Miami. Hardly anyone succeeded in picturing opera to his audience as impressively as he did. And thus Prawy became an institution of the Viennese opera as the National Guide to Opera (Opernführer der Nation).
In his final years, Prawy was quite frank about his unique, and rather eccentric, method of archiving his enormous collection, gathered over many decades, of theatre programmes, recordings, letters, photographs, personal notes, and similar loose sheets. While Prawy himself had rooms at the Hotel Sacher, he invited journalists into the private apartment he was still keeping, which contained thousands of plastic shopping bags, each of which was carefully labelled so that he could in no time access any information he needed.
On his 90th birthday in 2001, a special celebration was held for him in the Vienna State Opera. Prawy's death in 2003 of a lung embolism was regarded as the passing of one of the last witnesses of an old time gone by and greatly mourned by the public.
- Regarding personal names: Ritter is a title, translated approximately as Knight, not a first or middle name. There is no equivalent female form.
- Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language Wikipedia article (retrieved February 1, 2006).
- Marcel Prawy at the aeiou Encyclopedia
- Jewish Music Institute | A tribute to Marcel Prawy
- Marcel Prawy's Profile at The Remington Records Site
- Marcel Prawy. The Vienna Opera. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 1970. ISBN 0-297-00134-5
- Marcel Prawy. Richard Wagner: Leben und Werk. Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, Munich. 1982. ASIN B000EEJP7Q
- Marcel Prawy. Johann Strauss. Ueberreuter, Vienna. 1991. ISBN 3-8000-3393-3
- Marcel Prawy. Marcel Prawy erzählt aus seinem Leben. ...und seine Vision der Oper des 21. Jahrhunderts. Kremayr & Scheriau, Vienna. 2002. ISBN 3-218-00690-2
- Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz, Thomas Trabitsch. Marcel Prawy: Glück, das mir verblieb. Christian Brandstätter, Vienna. 2002. ISBN 3-85498-174-0