Walter Kollo

Elimar Walter Kollodzieyski was born in Neidenburg, East Prussia on January 28th 1878, the son of an affluent businessman and a concert pianist.

He was encouraged to study music from an early age by his mother, much to the disappointment of his father who later disinherited him.

His first professional engagement was as a teacher and composer in Königsberg at the turn of the century where he met and married Marie Preuss, a singer performing under the stage name of Mizzi Josetti.

In 1904 they had a son, Willi, and the family moved to Berlin where he changed his name to Walter Kollo.

The young pianist and composer was in great demand among the cabarets and theatres of Berlin and was soon regularly working at Max Rheinhardt’s ‘Schall und Rauch’ and the equally famous ‘Roland Von Berlin’ cabaret stages. It was at the latter where he met Claire Waldoff, and together with lyricist Herman Frey, wrote the song ‘Schmackeduzchen’ for the then unknown 23 yr old singer. They  performed the song almost every night for the next two years. They would go on to form a lifelong friendship, writing and performing dozens of songs over the years including one of Claire Waldoff’s biggest hits ‘Ach Jott, was sind die Männer dumm’ taken from the operetta ‘Drei Alte Schachteln’ performed more than a thousand  times at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz, now Goya.

Over the next 30 years, he would compose over 40 operettas that premiered in theatres throughout Berlin and also in Hamburg, Munich, Mainz, Köln and Paris.

By 1923 he was collaborating with his son Willi, who was just 19 years old, and they had several huge hits culminating in the 1933 production ‘Lieber Reich, aber Glücklich’ and 1935’s  ‘Berlin,  wie es Weint und Lacht’ which both ran at the Komodiehaus, sold out every night, for two years.

Away from composing, in 1915, Walter Kollo founded the Gesellschaft für Musikalische Aufführungs, now known as GEMA, and now one of the worlds largest societies representing the copyrights of musicians and publishers.

He also founded his own publishing company VUVAG in 1919, which until recently was still under the ownership of the Kollo family.

In the late 1930’s he retired from working life having become a grandfather to Willi’s daughter Marguerite Kollo in 1935 and then his son Rene Kollo in 1937.

He died in 1940, aged just 62,  in his apartment in Schwäbischer Straße in Schöneberg, and is buried in the Sophienfriedhof in Invalidenstraße.


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One Response to Walter Kollo

  1. Hels says:

    What father disinherits a talented, dedicated and cultured son, just because he goes into a career not of his father’s choosing? I hope at least Walter’s mother kept in contact with her very successful son.

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