LEON JESSEL (1871-1942) was known in his day as one of the most successful German composers of operetta and Singspielen. He was also a prolific composer of light orchestral works and salon pieces.
Jessel was born in the eastern German city of Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), the son of a Jewish merchant and his American-born wife. At 17, he left school to pursue a career in the musical theater, and after several years of study, took a succession of conducting jobs in various German cities. From 1899 to 1911, he settled in Lübeck, where he was Kappelmeister at the Wilhelm Theater, after which he settled permanently in Berlin.
Jessel’s greatest success was the operetta Schwartzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl), which premiered in Berlin in 1917. Within 10 years, it had run for 900 performances at the Komische Oper in Berlin as well as receiving nearly 6000 performances elsewhere in Germany and abroad. The 1921 operetta Die Postmeisterin (The Postmistress) was nearly as successful.
Jessel’s ideological outlook was conservative and nationalistic, which is reflected in his operettas. His second wife Anna joined the Nazi party in 1932, and Schwartzwaldmädel was reportedly a favorite of both Hitler and Himmler. Though a Jew by birth, Jessel had converted to Christianity in 1894, and fully expected to be accepted by the authorities even after the Nazis rose to power. Instead, performances of his music were banned in 1933, and he was forced out of all public positions. On December 15, 1941, he was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, and died on January 4, 1942 in the Berlin Jewish Hospital.
After the Nazi era ended, Jessel’s stage music began to be heard in Germany again. Outside of Germany, his best-known work by far is Die Parade der Zinnsoldaten, known in the English-speaking world as Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (although “tin soldiers” would be a more accurate translation), which was published as a piano piece in 1897, followed by a version for small theater orchestra in 1905.
This edition generally follows the 1905 orchestral version, with the addition of optional instrumentation to make the work playable by full symphony orchestra.
- OJ-PWS1 Score $12.50
Duration: approx. 3 minutes
Orchestra set includes original instrumentation and expanded instrumentation.
- original instrumentation: 184.108.40.206. / 220.127.116.11. / 3P / A Sax, T Sax (opt.) / banjo (opt.) / strings
- expanded instrumentation: 2.p.2.2.bcl.2. / 18.104.22.168. / T 3P / A sax, T sax (opt) / banjo (opt.) / strings