Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945) was an Austrian composer who was enormously popular in his time, but who outlived his time by at least a generation. Best known during his lifetime as a composer of operas, Reznicek already had three operas when he wrote his comic masterpiece Donna Diana. Written while Reznicek was the military band master in Prague, the work was premiered to great success in that city in 1894. Reznicek went on to write ten more operas through 1934 and to revise Donna Diana twice, once in 1908 and again in 1933, but musical styles had so completely changed by that time that the opera and its composer were all but forgotten. Although central European conductors kept the overture alive as a concert favorite, the opera had all but dropped out of the repertoire before Reznicek's death. Oddly, a section of the overture was used as the theme music for a popular radio show called Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1947-1955), which was later turned into a television show of the same name (1955-1958). This kept Reznicek's name alive on concert programs until, finally, the complete opera Donna Diana received its first complete recording on the CPO label more than a century after its debut.
Description by James Leonard