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Oscar Fetrás

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Oscar Fetrás (16 February 1854 – 10 January 1931) was a German composer of popular dance music, military marches, piano pieces and arrangements.
Fetrás had over 200 compositions to his name. His best known work is his waltz "Mondnacht auf der Alster" Op. 60 which is still immensely popular to the present day.
Fetrás was born as Otto Kaufmann Faster in 1854 in Hamburg. His father Matthias Faster was an Hamburgian editor of a stock-exchange magazine. The Faster family originally came from Bützfleth, a locality of today's Stade near Hamburg. Fetrás's grandfather, a sea captain, died in the sinking of his ship Ceres. His mother Amalie Margarethe, born Decker, had ancestral origins from the island of Sylt.
Early in his career Fetrás worked for Ferdinand Laeisz [de], founder of the Flying P-Liner. Once he became widely regarded as being on the same level as the revered Viennese waltz kings, he departed to conduct his own orchestra. At the age of 26 Fetrás's compositions attracted the attention of a Hamburg publisher. He changed his name to Fetrás, an anagram of his surname Faster.
Fetrás soon rose to the position of conductor of the Uhlenhorster Fährhaus, a famous restaurant with ballrooms in Hamburg for which he composed his second most famous, but now forgotten work, Uhlenhorster Kinder. He was regarded as the most talented light music composer that Northern Germany ever produced and from the start modelled his own composing on that of his idol, Johann Strauss Jr. As a gift of thanks for his waltz "Mondnacht auf der Alster" which brought Hamburg international acclaim, the local business community gave Fetrás a bronze statue of the Roman god Hermes/Mercurius by the French artist Marius Montagne. This statue is the only remaining possession of Fetrás which survived the World War II bombings and is now owned privately in Henstedt-Ulzburg near Hamburg.
It might have been Franz von Blon, at that time the conductor of the Stadttheater Orchestra, who introduced "Mondnacht auf der Alster" at the inaugural concert for the 1888 ball season. It was a sensation and earned Fetrás the title of "The Hamburg Waltz King". Soon he was invited to tour Germany, Austria and France with his orchestra. He became personally acquainted with Johann Strauss. In 1904 he won a prize for his composition "Frühlingsluft" and later he wrote Reiche Mädchen, a reworking of Johann Strauss's 1897 operetta Die Göttin der Vernunft. The complete Die Göttin der Vernunft operetta has been released in 2011 by Naxos Records, whilst the Reiche Mädchen has been recorded by Marco Polo on their two CD production of Johann Strauss operetta collections. Fetrás remained well-known and respected and though definitely a second rank composer in the Viennese style, he produced some 300 works. Fetrás died January 1931 in Hamburg and was buried in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
In 1943, the Uhlenhorster Färhaus was destroyed by Allied bombing, and with it was lost the original score of Fetrás's most famous work "Mondnacht auf der Alster". The waltzes and music of Fetrás appear to have disappeared from the mainstream repertoire since then. This was primarily due to the many outlets of music publishers and music parts libraries which issued his material being destroyed during the bombing of Hamburg in World War II, leaving no publishers to issue his material to this day. Arrangements for solo piano of all of his works, published with opus numbers, are available on IMSLP.
In Hamburg-Rahlstedt the street Fetrasweg is named after him.
"Moonlight on the Alster" is described as being popular with Royal Navy personnel in the novel HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean.