Abraham was born in Apatin, Austria-Hungary (today Serbia), and studied at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music in Budapest from 1910 to 1916. He studied cello with Adolf Schiffer and composition with Viktor Herzfeld.
Like many other composers of operettas, Paul Abraham started with works of a serious nature. During the decade following his studies he wrote, among other things, sacred music, string quartets and a concerto for violoncello. When he was appointed conductor at the Budapest Operetta Theatre in 1927 he found his way to this more popular art form which was more suited to his talent.
His first operetta, Der Gatte des Fräuleins, was written in 1928. With his third, Viktoria und ihr Husar (1930), he achieved a resounding success. Through this work, and the next two operettas from 1931 and 1933 Die Blume von Hawaii and Ball im Savoy he became renowned worldwide. He also wrote numerous film scores.
The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 forced the Abraham to abandon his domicile in Berlin and leave Germany. Via Vienna and Paris he moved to Cuba where he earned a modest living as a pianist and later emigrated to New York City. After a mental breakdown he was in February 1946 committed to the Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, later to the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens. In May 1956 he returned to live in Hamburg, Germany, where he received treatment at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. He died four years later, aged 67.
- The Singing City (1930)
- A Bit of Love / Monsieur, Madame and Bibi (1932)
- The Rakoczi March (1933)
- Temptation (1934)
- Antonia (1935)
- Modern Girls (1937)
- Serenade (1940)
- Zenebona (together with other composers) Operette in 3 acts, 2 March 1928, Budapest. Libretto: Lakatos László/Bródy István
- Az utolsó Verebély lány (also known as Az elsö Verebély lány or Der Gatte des Fräuleins) 13 October 1928 Libretto: Harmath Imre-Drégely Gábor
- Szeretem a felségem (Es geschehen noch Wunder) Magyar Színház 15 June 1929, Libretto: Birabeau André-Dolley Georges (after: Stella Adorján)
- Viktoria und ihr Husar, Operette, 3 acts and prologue. 21 February 1930 Budapest, Operettentheater. Libretto: Földes, Imre / Harmath, Imre, (German: Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda)
- Die Blume von Hawaii, Operette 3 acts, 24 July 1931 Leipzig, Neues Theater. Libretto: Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda, after Imre Földes
- Ball im Savoy, Operette 3 acts and prologue. 23 December 1932 Berlin, Großes Schauspielhaus. Libretto: Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda. English: Ball at The Savoy, 8 September 1933 London, Drury Lane Theatre
- Märchen im Grand-Hotel, Lustspieloperette 3 acts 29 March 1934 Vienna, Theater an der Wien. Libretto: Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda
- Viki 26 January 1935 Magyar Színház, Libretto:Harmath Imre-Adorján Bónyi
- Történnek még csodák 20 April 1935 Magyar Színház, Libretto: Halász Imre-Békeffi István
- Dschainah, das Mädchen aus dem Tanzhaus, Operette 3 Acts. 21 December 1935 Vienna, Theater an der Wien. Libretto: Alfred Grünwald and Fritz Löhner-Beda
- 3:1 a szerelem javára 18 December 1936 Király Színház, Libretto: Harmath Imre-Kellér Dezső-Szilágyi László
- Roxy und ihr Wunderteam Musikalischer Fußballschwank, 25 March 1937 Vienna, Theater an der Wien, Libretto: Hans Weigel and Alfred Grünwald
- Julia Operette in 2 parts and a Nachspiel, 23 December 1937 Városi Színház Budapest, Libretto: Harmath Imre-Földes Imre
- A Fehér hattyu (The White Swan), 1938
- Zwei glückliche Herzen Libretto: Robert Gilbert and Armin L. Robinson. Premiere date unknown
- Tambourin Musical in 2 parts (unperformed) Libretto: Alfred Grünwald
- Daniel Hirschel "Paul Abraham" in Operette unterm Hakenkreuz, Wolfgang Schaller (ed), Metropol Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-938690-35-2
- Lamb, Andrew. "Abraham, Paul." in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, accessed 21 August 2008 (subscription required)
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