Korneuburg composer - Nikolaus Dostal: The operetta king

Photo: SOME

His operettas are well known, as are the films for which he wrote the music. What is less known, however, is that Nikolaus Josef Michael Dostal was born in Korneuburg in 1895. He grew up in a musical family: his grandfather was a military bandmaster and uncle Hermann Dostal a composer.

Dostal first studied law at the University of Vienna, but his passion was music. In 1914/1915 he came to the Klosterneuburg department for church music at the Vienna Academy of Music. His first composition was a "Great Mass" in D major, which was premiered in the parish church in Ebelsberg near Linz.

After the end of the war, Dostal became theater conductor in Innsbruck in the winter of 1918, and then he went to St. Pölten and Vienna. For three years, until 1924, he worked as a conductor in Salzburg. From there he moved to Berlin and found access to popular music. As an arranger, Dostal worked on operettas by Oscar Straus, Franz Lehár and Robert Stolz.

"Clivia", Nico Dostal's first own operetta composition, premiered in Berlin in 1933 with great success. So the further development was clear: operetta and film music. As early as 1932 he had written the music for "Kaiserwalzer" with Paul Hörbiger.

After "Clivia" other operettas followed, such as "The Much Beloved", "Extra Sheets", "Monika", "Hungarian Wedding" and "Manina". During this time, Dostal also composed the music for the film "Thirteen Chairs" with Heinz Rühmann and "Geierwally".

Dostal was able to continue his career unhindered even during National Socialism. His name is on the "God-Blessed List" of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Later, Dostal's operettas were examined to see if they reflected the ideology of the Nazi regime. The result: As with all operettas of this time, the aim was simply to create uncritical vibrancy.

After the Second World War, Nico Dostal first moved to Vienna and from 1954 lived in Salzburg, where he continued to devote himself to his compositional activities. In addition to operettas and film music, he also composed church music. He died in Salzburg in 1981, and there is a grave of honor in the Salzburg municipal cemetery. The composer wrote 24 operettas and numerous film scores, sacred music and suites.

The Nico Dostal Singing Competition has been held in Korneuburg since 2011. The aim of the competition is to give young singers the opportunity to present themselves to an international jury with the prospect of engagements. This year it's the end of October again. In 1983 the "Nico Dostal Monument" was handed over as part of the Korneuburg Music Days, and in 2017 it found a new place in the museum park.