Ferenc Erkel [ˈfɛrɛnʦ ˈɛrkɛl] (November 7, 1810, Gyula - June 15, 1893, Budapest) was a Hungarian composer. He was the father of Hungarian grand opera, written mainly on historical themes, which are still often performed in Hungary. He also composed the music of "Himnusz", the national anthem of Hungary, which was adopted in 1844.
The librettos of his first four operas were written by Béni Egressy. Beside the operas, which he is the best known for, he wrote pieces for piano and chorus. He headed the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra (founded in 1853). He was also the director and piano teacher of the Hungarian Academy of Music until 1886. The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest was opened in 1884, of which he was the musical director.
In 1839 he married Adél Adler, they had four sons - Gyula (July 4, 1842 Pest - March 22, 1909 Újpest), Elek (November 2, 1843 Pest - June 10, 1893 Budapest), László (April 9, 1844 Pest - December 3, 1896 Bratislava) and Sándor (January 2, 1846 Pest - October 14, 1900 Békéscsaba) - who participated in the composing of his later operas.
Erkel was an internationally acknowledged chess player as well.
A department of the Opera House was established in 1911 in Budapest which also performs operas, named Erkel Színház (Erkel Theatre) since 1953.
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