Herbert Prikopa was born in Vienna on 30th
November 1935. He graduated from grammar school in 1953. At the early age of five, he had piano lessons with Prof. Trude Korn. During his school time he studied harmony, counter point, composing and conducting. At the age of 19, he became the youngest ever répétiteur at the Vienna Volksoper. He had had previous experience as a répétiteur at the Vienna State Opera Ballet.
After several appearances as a singer in the Vienna Chamber Opera ("Wiener Kammeroper") he was offered a cabaret contract in Gerhard Bronner's "Brettl vorm Klavier". He was then engaged to play at the Theater in der Josefstadt as Pfüller in the Otto Schenk production of Martin Costas "Hofrat Geiger" with famous actors and actresses as his partners, among others Lotte Lang, Maria Andergast, Erik Frey and Ernst Waldbrunn. During all these engagements, he continued to be a répétiteur at the Vienna Volksoper. In 1957 he received a soloist contract at the Vienna Volksoper, taking over the comedian roles of Kammersänger Fritz Krenn. At the same time he began to study singing with Prof. Elisabeth Rado. Since then he has played over 90 roles many thousands of times at the Vienna Volksoper. These roles include among others "Der Zigeunerbaron" ("The Gypsy Baron") as Zsupan, "Der Bettelstudent" as Ollendorf, "Die Fledermaus" as Frosch, "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") as Njegus and Zeta, "Wiener Blut" as Ypsheim and Kargler, "My Fair Lady" as Doolittle, "Eine Nacht in Venedig" ("A Night in Venice") as Pappacoda, "Kiss me Kate", "Der Opernball", "Gräfin Mariza", "Bajadere", "Der Vogelhändler", "Boccaccio", "Csardasfürstin", "Rose von Stambul", "Im weißen Rössel" ("The White Horse Inn"), "Showboat", "Caroussel", "La Perichole", "Madame Pompadour" and many more. He also made many appearances in opera: "Martha", "Hoffmanns Erzählungen" ("The Tales of Hoffmann") as Franz and Spalanzani), "Der Mond", "Ero der Schelm", "Fra Diavolo", "Gianni Schicchi", "Madame Butterfly", "Barbier von Bagdad", "Iwan Tarassenko", "Zaubergeige", "Postillion von Lonjumeau", "Albert Herring", "Hänsel und Gretel" as Witch, etc. In 1965 he made his first appearance at the Vienna State Opera ("Wiener Staatsoper") in the premiere of Strawinsky's "Rake Progress" and later he appeared in "The Magic Flute" ("Die Zauberflöte") as Monostatos.
In 1964 he founded the Volksopern Opera Studio ("Studio der Volksoper") with Kammersänger Walter Höfermeyer and was their musical director. Since then he has expanded his work in the field of conducting ("Martha", "Rigoletto", "La Traviata", etc.). From 1977 he was additionally engaged as a conductor at the Vienna Volksoper, including among others "Die Fledermaus", "Boccaccio", "Gräfin Mariza", "Pariser Leben" ("La vie parisienne") and "Der Barbier von Sevilla" ("The Barber of Seville"). In 1979 Lord Harewood, the director of the English National Opera in London, invited him to London to conduct. He was guest conductor at the English National Opera for 10 years, conducting "Die Fledermaus", "Eine Nacht in Venedig" ("A Night in Venice"), "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow"), "Die Verkaufte Braut" ("The Bartered Bride"), etc. He was also guest conductor for three years at the Cabap Opera in Capetown. Herbert Prikopa conducted many concerts and TV shows both in Austria and abroad, including many New Year's concerts in Germany with the "Westdeutschen Philharmonische Orchester" and with the "Philharmonia Hungarica". He was composer and conductor for the Victor-Borge-Show in German and Swiss television.
Herbert Prikopa is also the founder and conductor of the concerts "Für Kinder und Kenner" ("For Children and Experts"), which started in 1978 at the "Wiener Konzerthaus". They were such a success that he was invited to conduct these concerts both in Austria and abroad for many years. These special concerts were designed for the children accompanied by their parents not just to hear the music, but with a pedagogic aim to encourage children to visit concerts with joy. These concerts have been very popular for over 20 years and have proven to be a perfect synthesis of pedagogic work with natural music appreciation for children. Since January 1989, these concerts have also taken place in Munich with the "Bayerische Rundfunk Orchester".
Since 1957 Herbert Prikopa has also played in many American, German and Austrian films, has had his own TV programs and played in many TV series. Examples of this are a detective series in Saarbrücken ("Das ist Stern schnuppe") directed by Wilm ten Haaf alongside of Edith Hancke, many operetta productions with WDR ("Westdeutschen Rundfunks"), many shows and "Kabarett" (satirical shows) in ARD and ZDF and many appearances in the Karl Farkas shows in Austrian television (ORF). For more than 15 years he wrote, produced and moderated a music program for Austrian radio ("Der Ohrwurm"). Even longer he had a children's program in Austrian TV called "Auch Spaß muss sein". Over the years he has had many invitations as an actor in Austrian and German television.
There were also always many invitations to act in distinguished theatres, e.g. "Theater in der Josefstadt" (Ödön von Horvaths "Hin und her" and "Figaro läßt sich scheiden").
He composed music for "Theater der Jugend", radio and television. He also composed the music for the musical "François, der Henker wartet" about François Villon, which had its world premiere in the
Wiener Volkstheater in 1976. He has composed and still composes music for records, CDs and concerts. He has also appeared in all the famous Austrian festivals, including Bregenz, "Carinthischer Sommer", Hohenems, Hellbrunn-Salzburg, Mörbisch and Ischl.
In May 1986 he was awarded "Das große Ehrenzeichens für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich" ("Grand Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria"). In 1987 he became an honourable member of the Vienna Volksoper and since 1999 an honourable member of the Viennese Johann Strauß Society, awarded to him by Prof. Franz Mailer.
In 1987 he was the musical director of the newly organised summer festival in Amstetten with the operetta "Feuerwerk". He was again invited as a guest to appear at the Tiroler Landestheater in Lehár's "Land of Smiles" ("Land des Lächelns"). Since 1988 he has had many contracts to conduct New Year concerts in Germany and always more appearances as a singer in new productions at the Vienna Volksoper. In 1989 he had his first guest appearance in the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich in the premier of "Der Zigeunerbaron" ("The Gypsy Baron") as Zsupan. In the same year he played Njegus in "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") and Zsupan in "Der Zigeunerbaron" ("The Gypsy Baron") in the third Vienna Volksoper Tour in Japan. In the previous Vienna Volksoper Tours, he also conducted "Die Fledermaus" in Tokio and Osaka. During this time he continued to conduct in Vienna and Germany.
In 1990 he conducted for the first time in the "Theater des Westens" in Berlin. He arranged the music for the production of "Im weißen Rössel" ("The White Horse Inn"), which was produced by the then director of the theatre, Helmut Baumann. He had already worked with Helmut Baumann a few years earlier at the Vienna Volksoper in the production of "Pariser Leben" ("La vie parisienne"). Baumann was the producer, Prikopa the conductor. This version of "Pariser Leben" ("La vie parisienne") was later produced and conducted by Herbert Prikopa in the Tiroler Landestheater.
In the summer of 1991 he became music director of the "Seefestspiele Mörbisch" and conducted the world premiere of an Austrian musical "Sissy und Romy" composed by Roland Baumgartner. At the end of 1991 he played Frosch in "Die Fledermaus" in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich") and he played the same role in Innsbruck, where he also conducted the same performance. During this time in Innsbruck he also conducted many concerts with Innsbruck philharmonic orchestra. In the summer of 1992 he conducted "Der Zigeunerbaron" ("The Gypsy Baron") at the "Seefestspiele Mörbisch". At the end of 1992 he again played Frosch in Zurich.
In 1993 he played with an international cast in the film about the Austrian hypnotist Mesmer ("Mesmer
") directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Following this, a grand gala took place in St. Louis, Missouri, USA and like previous years many appearances in radio, TV and many concerts.
In 1994 miscellaneous CDs with piano music composed and played by Herbert Prikopa were released. He conducted more "Kinder und Kenner" concerts in Munich, heralded by the press as "pedagogically precious". These concerts were also repeated in Ingolstadt and Regensburg. In the season of 1993/1994 he received a contract to compose the music for "Max and Moritz" by Wilhelm Busch for the Vienna Festival ("Wiener Festwochen"). The premiere took place at the Vienna Künstlerhaus ("Wiener Künstlerhaus").
In late autumn 1994 his first book was published by Löckerverlag, Vienna. The book was a biography dedicated to Erich Kunz, a famous opera singer celebrating his 85th
birthday. In the same year, after a long pause from theatre, he appeared in the theatre "Kleine Komödie" in Vienna in dedication to the then recently deceased Hugo Wiener for his 90th
birthday. The first half of the program was a one-act play by Hugo Wiener and the second half was a satirical program of his works presented by his widow Cissy Kraner and Herbert Prikopa. Since 1993 he has performed many evenings with Cissy Kraner, accompanying her on the piano and reading some of Hugo Wiener's famous stories.
For many years he has been a member of Lore Krainer's "Guglhupf"-team, playing every Sunday in a satirical radio program. In 1994/1995 he was again invited to play the part of Frosch in "Die Fledermaus" in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich"). He was then invited in January 1995 by the "Wiener Symphoniker" ("Vienna Symphony Orchestra") as a conductor and presenter for their famous "Faschingskonzert" (carnival concert), a concert he continued to conduct throughout the following years. In spring 1995 he was invited to play in Hamburg, Germany in the Ernst Deutsch Theater as Spund in Nestroy's "Der Talisman" produced by Prof. Dr. Hellmuth Matiasek. In the summer of 1996 he played for the first time in Burg Liechtenstein under the direction of Prof. Elfriede Ott as Sauerfaß in Nestroy's "Umsonst".
In 1997 he conducted more "Kinder und Kenner" concerts, this time in Switzerland with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. In Vienna he played in Agatha Christie's "Zeugin der Anklage" ("Witness for the Prosecution") in the theatre "Kleine Komödie", playing the role of the master barrister Sir Wilfred Robarts. At the end of the year, he reprised his role of Frosch in "Die Fledermaus" in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich") and during the year had many concerts in Vienna, Linz and Munich.
At the beginning of 1997 he played in the French-Austrian film "Sans cérémonie
" with Charles Aznavour and Annie Cordy. In the spring of the same year, he played Njegus in Helmuth Lohner's production of "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich"). Performances of this production were played from 1998 to 2001. In May 1998, he received a contract for the Wiener Kammerspiele, part of the Theater in der Josefstadt, this time in a production from Fritz Muliar with Susanne Almassy and Elfriede Ott in "Zwei ahnungslose Engel". He performed further concerts in Zurich, Munich, Linz, Innsbruck and Vienna and appeared in television and on radio.
In Januaray 1998, at the annual "Faschingskonzert" (carnival concert) with the "Wiener Symphoniker" ("Vienna Symphony Orchestra"), the new edition of the polka "Plappermäulchen" by Josef Strauß, which is under the protection of the Orchestra, was dedicated to Herbert Prikopa. He also conducted the following two "Faschingskonzerts" (carnival concerts) with this world famous orchestra on the 9th
January 1999 and 9th
In December 1998 his second book was published by Ibera-Europa-Verlag. This book was about the Vienna Volksoper, which celebrated its 100th
birthday in 1998. (List of books
In the same year he took part in the film "Eine fast perfekte Hochzeit
" by Reinhard Schwabenitzky. The first Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala tour took place from December 1998 to January 1999, touring all the great concert halls in Germany, Italy and Switzerland, conducting exclusively work from the Strauß-Dynasty. In January 1999 was the revival of the successful production of "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich"). In the summer of 1999 he again appeared in the Nestroy Festival in Burg Liechtenstein in "Heimliches Geld, heimliche Liebe" with Prof. Elfriede Ott.
The next Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala tour with the international Johann Strauß Orchester took place from December 1999 to March 2000, the third tour from December 2000 to the middle of February 2001. In January 2000, he took part as Frosch in a new production of "Die Fledermaus" in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich") under the direction of the producer Jürgen Flimm and conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In December 2000 he reprised his role of Njegus in the revival of "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") in Zurich. In the same year he also conducted many "Kinder und Kenner" concerts.
In November 2000 he was presented with the "Urlinger" by the Jedlersdorfer carnival guild, one of the oldest carnival establishments in Vienna. The 4th
Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala tour took place from December 2001 to February 2002, again through Germany and Switzerland. In the summer of 2002, he played the role of Kargler in the premiere of "Wiener Blut" with the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich").
In the seasons 2002/2003, 2003/2004, 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 the Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala tour took place again through all the great concert halls in Germany and Switzerland.
In the summer of 2003, he performed a "Kinder und Kenner" concert at the "Attergauer Kultursommer" and in autumn he directed an operetta concert with the Vienna Johann Strauß Society in Athens, Greece. During this time he also played for the first time with the Ensemble of the Wiener Volkstheater in a world premiere of "Miami Murder Show" written by Lida Winiewicz. During this time, he also played Njegus in "Die Lustige Witwe" ("The Merry Widow") in the Zurich Opera House ("Opernhaus Zürich") and in December 2004 in the premier of the operetta "Der Opernball" under the direction of the producer Helmuth Lohner.
His third book "Johann Strauß-Führer durch Europa" was published in 2004 and is about countries and cities visited by the family Strauß and the influence they had on these places.
In March 2005 he was presented with the title of "Professor" by the Austrian Chancellery.
In spring 2006 he took part in a new television series by Reinhard Schwabenitzky in Salzburg. In summer he held a commemorative speech for a bank congress in Kufstein with the topic "Mozart and Money" ("Mozart und das Geld"). He also made a guest appearance at the 35th
international Youth Music Festival in the Austria Center in Vienna. He had many other guest appearances in festivals and galas. In 2006/2007 the Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala tour took place again in Germany and Switzerland. Every year a CD was produced from these concerts. (List of CDs
and final tour of the Wiener Johann Strauß Konzert-Gala ended in February 2008. The manager of the tour suddenly decided he too could be a conductor and therefore decided to make the tour himself. As a professional, Herbert Prikopa found it detrimental to be associated with this firm.
He was immediately offered operetta concerts in Austria, the first took place in summer 2008 in Zell am See. He told the story of the operetta, accompanied by four excellent singers, and he conducted the international Johann Strauß Ensemble, which mainly consists of members of the famous Bruckner Orchester Linz.
From the year 2008 to 2010, he took part in many radio, television, films, galas, events, presentations and artist talk shows.