- Eric Beheim
Rapee, Erno (04 June 1891–26 June 1945), composer, conductor, and pianist, was born in Budapest, Hungary. A piano virtuoso, he studied composition and piano at the Budapest Royal Conservatory, graduating at the age of eighteen. A conducting student of Ernst Schuch, the general musical director of the Dresden Royal Opera House, Rapee held conductor and assistant conductor posts with various European theaters. Following a concert tour of South America and Mexico, he came to New York City in 1912. Arriving literally without funds, Rapee found employment as a musician at New York’s Cafe Monopole for $25 a week. He also worked briefly as an accompanist for Harry Lauder, the popular Scottish singer and comedian. In 1913 he was engaged as musical director for New York City’s Hungarian Opera Company. The following year he made his American vaudeville debut, playing classical numbers and patriotic medleys on the piano....