Hermann Leopoldi

1888 (Vienna-Meidling) - 1959 (Vienna)


Hermann Leopoldi, originally named Ferdinand Cohn, was born in Meidling, a district of Vienna, on 15 August 1888, the son of a professional musician. In 1904, after earning his A-levels, he found his first employment as a pianist. He served in the military from 1914 to 1918. In this period, but above all after the war, he composed, performed on cabaret stages, and made gramophone recordings. Beginning in 1925 he also received engagements to perform in Berlin; in 1929 he collaborated with Betja Milskaja; in 1937 he received the Silver Medal for Services to the Republic of Austria.

Leopoldi was arrested on 26 April 1938 on account of his Jewish origins and deported to Dachau Concentration Camp. In August he was transferred from there to Buchenwald. The same year he composed the Buchenwald Song (lyrics: Fritz Löhner-Beda). Members of Leopoldi’s family who had managed to flee to the U.S. succeeded in obtaining an affidavit for him.

In early February 1939, Leopoldi was released from the concentration camp. After obtaining the documents necessary for his emigration, he departed from Vienna for the U.S. at the beginning of March. He arrived in New York on 20 March 1939. There he made the acquaintance of his new artistic partner and later second wife, Helly Möslein. He began a second career, gave concerts and received record contracts.

He returned to Vienna in 1947, but did not take out Austrian citizenship until 1951. Stage performances, concert tours and gramophone recordings followed.

Hermann Leopoldi died in Vienna on 28 June 1959.