Marcel Prawy

Died February 23rd, 2003

VIENNA, Austria - Marcel Prawy, Austria's beloved "opera guide of the nation" and an internationally respected classical music expert, has died, the Vienna State Opera announced. He was 91.

Prawy died Sunday of a lung embolism, opera director Ioan Holender told the Austria Press Agency. Prawy earned the "opera guide" nickname for his long years as a knowledgeable authority explaining to generations of Austrians the intricacies of opera and other classical music on radio and TV. He was also known for his love of musicals, which he helped introduce on stage in postwar Austria.

Born in Vienna on Dec. 29, 1911, as Marcel Horace Frydman, Knight of Prawy, he earned a law doctorate and also studied music with composer Egon Wellesz. Prawy became personal secretary to renowned singer Jan Kiepura and remained in the United States after the outbreak of World War II. He befriended Leonard Bernstein, and in 1946 returned to Vienna as a U.S. Army cultural officer.

In 1995, Prawy was appointed script editor and later managing producer of the Vienna Volksoper, the city's foremost operetta stage. Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate" was the first musical produced on a Vienna opera stage. It was a box office hit for which Prawy claimed credit. Holender, the opera director, called Prawy irreplaceable and "a shining symbol of the art of opera."

"With Prawy's death, the 20th century has definitely gone," he said.

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