(1924 - 2007)
Internationally recognized Austrian-American singer, pianist and film producer, Elfriede “Elfi” Dassanowsky, died October 2 at the age of eighty-three in Los Angeles. She was well known as a woman of many talents and achievements, a list of which singles her out as someone remarkable for a woman of her generation: opera singer, pianist, actress, film studio founder, producer, creator of musical theater, teacher, cultural diplomat and humanitarian.
Called a “role model for women in the arts,” the Vienna-born Dassanowsky began her multi-talented career at age sixteen as a piano coach for German star Curd Jurgens, but her emergence as a singer and pianist was halted when she openly defied the Nazis. She co-founded the Belvedere Film Studio in Vienna in 1946, which John Walker of Halliwell’s “Who’s Who in the Movies” maintains helped “kick start” independent postwar Central European film, while also appearing on the opera, operetta and concert stages. Following the war, she returned to her singing career and worked with the Allied High Commission in creating concerts. Her career later moved briefly to Germany and then to Hollywood where she worked with Otto Preminger. She re-established Belvedere Film as a Los Angeles/Vienna based production company with her son, University of Colorado Professor and independent producer Robert Dassanowsky, in 1999 and produced award-winning shorts, such as “Semmelweis” (2001). He will continue to develop and complete the major projects Elfi Dassanowsky had been working on at her death.
She is the only Austrian woman to have been named a “Living Legacy” by the Women’s international Center, has received the UNESCO Mozart Medal and the French Chevalier of the Order des Arts et des Lettres in addition to her many Austrian and Viennese honors for her creative, humanitarian and often pioneering work. She will be laid to rest in Vienna, the city of her birth, according to her final wish.