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Frederic Morton

Source Material
( b. Oct 05, 1924 Vienna, AUSTRIA - d. Apr 20, 2015 Vienna, AUSTRIA ) Male

Frederic Morton left Austria as a boy as his family fled from the Nazis and made a celebrated literary career in the United States, much of which involved observing his homeland and its history from a distance.

His literary portfolio was wide-ranging. A critic and essayist who contributed to many popular publications, including Esquire, Playboy and Harper's, Mr. Morton was for many years a regular contributor of reviews and articles to The New York Times.

He wrote a dozen or so books, the best known of which was "The Rothschilds" (1962), a history of the international banking family. It was a National Book Award finalist and the basis for a musical, with a score by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick (the team who also wrote Fiddler on the Roof), which opened on Broadway in 1970 and ran for more than 500 performances.

Mr. Morton wrote several novels with a European flavor on themes involving money and power, including "The Schatten Affair" (1965), about a German-born American Jew who returns to Berlin as the publicist for a financier; "Snow Gods" (1969), about the tycoons, aristocrats and other wealthy habitués of a ski resort in the Swiss Alps; "An Unknown Woman" (1976), which traces the path of a brilliant and lovely orphan of Jewish immigrants who ascends through romantic liaisons into the lofty heights of intellectual celebrity, political celebrity and the privilege of billionaire-level affluence; and "The Forever Street" (1984), a family saga set in Vienna over three generations, from the late 19th century through World War II.

It was in his nonfiction that Mr. Morton most closely examined the Austria that gave him his identity. Most notably, in "A Nervous Splendor: Vienna, 1888-1889" (1979), he recounted a year in the life of the city and its well-known figures -- including Freud, Mahler, Gustav Klimt and Arthur Schnitzler -- and especially the events surrounding the murder by Crown Prince Rudolf of his teenage mistress and his subsequent suicide, an episode known as Mayerling for the hunting lodge where the killings occurred. (Another National Book Award finalist, that book also served as the basis for a stage musical, Rudolf, with music by Frank Wildhorn, the American composer of Jekyll and Hyde. It has been staged in Budapest, Vienna and elsewhere.)

Mr. Morton's other books include "Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913-14" (1989), a study of the city as Europe plunges toward World War I, and a memoir, "Runaway Waltz" (2005).

Source: The New York Times obituary

ProductionsDate of Productions
The Rothschilds
[Musical, Original]
  • Based on "The Rothschilds" by Frederic Morton
Oct 19, 1970 - Jan 01, 1972
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