Franz von Suppè (until recently usually incorrectly von Suppé, né Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo de Suppè; 18 April 1819 – 21 May 1895) was an Austrian composer of light operas and other theatre music. He came from the Kingdom of Dalmatia, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now part of Croatia). A composer and conductor of the Romantic period, he is notable for his four dozen operettas.
Until recently, his name was usually incorrectly spelled Suppé with an acute accent or even without an accent as in the incorrect parish register entry, despite his father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great-great grandfather being recorded as Suppè with a normal Italian grave accent.
Grove and Encyclopædia Britannica and MGG have articles dating from 2001 to 2016 that already mention the corrected spelling but do not yet report on more recent research by Weigel and others that are already incorporated in the more recent article in the Österreichische Musiklexikon, for example that Demelli is incorrect, that his mother's maiden name is Jandovsky or Jandowsky (not Landovsky), and that Suppé lied about or embellished very many things in his biography to a degree quite unique in music history (for example about his education and when he met his wives).
Life and education
Franz von Suppès parents named him Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo when he was born on 18 April 1819 in Spalato, now Split, Dalmatia, Croatia. His father was a civil servant in the service of the Austrian Empire, as was his father before him; Suppè's mother was Viennese by birth. He simplified and Germanized his name when in Vienna, and changed de to the Ģerman equivalent von. Outside German-speaking circles, his name sometimes appears as Francesco and with the incorrect addition Demelli.
He spent his childhood in Zara, now Zadar, where he had his first music lessons and began to compose at an early age. As a boy he had encouragement in music from a local bandmaster and by the Zara cathedral choirmaster. His Missa dalmatica dates from this early period. As a teenager in Zara, Suppè studied flute and harmony. His first extant composition is a Roman Catholic mass, which premiered at a Franciscan church in Zara in 1835.
From 1840 on he worked as a composer and conductor for Franz Pokorny, the director of several theaters in Vienna, Pressburg (now Bratislava), Ödenburg (now Sopron) and Baden bei Wien. In Vienna, after studying with Ignaz von Seyfried, he conducted in the theatre, with the opportunity to present his own operas there. Eventually, Suppè wrote music for over a hundred productions at the Theater in der Josefstadt as well as the Carltheater in Leopoldstadt, at the Theater an der Wien. He also put on some landmark opera productions, such as the 1846 production of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots with Jenny Lind.
Suppé composed about 30 operettas and 180 farces, ballets, and other stage works. Although the bulk of his operettas have sunk into relative obscurity, the overtures – particularly Dichter und Bauer (Poet and Peasant, 1846) and Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry, 1866) – remain popular, many of them having been used in soundtracks for films, cartoons, advertisements, and so on, in addition to being frequently played at symphonic "pops" concerts. Some of the operettas are still regularly performed, notably Boccaccio, Die schöne Galathée and Fatinitza; while Peter Branscombe, writing in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, characterizes Suppé's song "O du mein Österreich" as "Austria's second national song".
Suppé retained links with his native Dalmatia, occasionally visiting Split (Spalato), Zadar (Zara), and Šibenik. Some of his works are linked with the region, in particular his operetta Des Matrosen Heimkehr, the action of which takes place in Hvar. After retiring from conducting, Suppé continued to write stage work, but increasingly shifted his interest to sacred music. He wrote a Requiem for theatre director Franz Pokorny (now very rarely heard); it was first performed on 22 November 1855, during Pokorny's memorial service; an oratorio, Extremum Judicum; three masses, among them the Missa Dalmatica; songs; symphonies; and concert overtures.
The descriptive nature of Suppé's overtures has earned them frequent use in numerous animated cartoons:
Ein Morgen, ein Mittag, ein Abend in Wien (Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna) was the central subject of the 1959 Bugs Bunny cartoon Baton Bunny. Poet and Peasant appears in the Fleischer Studios 1935 Popeye cartoon The Spinach Overture and the Oscar nominated Walter Lantz film of the same title; the overture to Light Cavalry is used in Disney's 1942 Mickey Mouse cartoon Symphony Hour.
The start of the cello solo (about one minute in) of the Poet and Peasant overture is nearly an exact match to the start of the folk song "I've Been Working on the Railroad", which was published in 1894. Turner Classic Movies runs a 1955 Cinemascope short of the MGM Symphony Orchestra turning in a vigorous performance of the overture.
Partial list of works
- Virginia (opera, L. Holt), 1837, not performed
- Gertrude della valle (opera, G. Brazzanovich), 1841, not performed
- Jung lustig, im Alter traurig, oder Die Folgen der Erziehung (comedy with songs, 3 acts, C. Wallis), TJ, 5 March 1841
- Die Hammerschmiedin aus Steyermark, oder Folgen einer Landpartie (local farce with songs, 2 acts, J. Schickh), Theater in der Josefstadt, 14 October 1842
- Ein Morgen, ein Mittag und ein Abend in Wien (local play with songs, 2 acts), Theater in der Josefstadt, 26 February 1844
- Marie, die Tochter des Regiments (vaudeville, 2 acts, F. Blum, after J. H. St Georges and J. F. A. Bayard), Theater in der Josefstadt, 13 June 1844
- Der Krämer und sein Kommis (farce with songs, 2 acts, F. Kaiser), Theater in der Josefstadt, 28 September 1844
- Die Müllerin von Burgos (vaudeville, 2 acts, J. Kupelwieser), Theater in der Josefstadt, 8 March 1845
- Sie ist verheiratet (comedy with songs, 3 acts, Kaiser), Theater an der Wien, 7 November 1845
- Dichter und Bauer (comedy with songs, 3 acts, K. Elmar), Theater an der Wien, 24 August 1846, full score (1900)
- Das Mädchen vom Lande (opera, 3 acts, Elmar), Theater an der Wien, 7 August 1847
- Martl, oder Der Portiunculatag in Schnabelhausen (farce with music, parody of Flotow: Martha, 3 acts, A. Berla), Theater an der Wien, 16 December 1848
- Des Teufels Brautfahrt, oder Böser Feind und guter Freund (magic farce with songs, 3 acts, Elmar), Theater an der Wien, 30 January 1849
- Gervinus, der Narr von Untersberg, oder Ein patriotischer Wunsch (farce with songs, 3 acts, Berla), Braunhirschen-Arena [and Theater an der Wien], 1 July 1849
- Unterthänig und unabhängig, oder Vor und nach einem Jahre (comedy with songs, 3 acts, Elmar), Theater an der Wien, 13 October 1849
- s'Alraunl (romantic tale with songs, 3 acts, A. von Klesheim), Theater an der Wien, 13 November 1849
- Der Dumme hat's Glück (farce with songs, 3 acts, Berla), Theater an der Wien, 29 June 1850
- Dame Valentine, oder Frauenräuber und Wanderbursche (Singspiel, 3 acts, Elmar), Theater an der Wien, 9 January 1851
- Der Tannenhäuser (dramatic poem with music, H. von Levitschnigg), Theater an der Wien, 27 February 1852
- Wo steckt der Teufel? (farce with songs, 3 acts, ?Grün), Theater an der Wien, 28 June 1854
- Paragraph 3 (opera, 3 acts, M. A. Grandjean), Hofoper, 8 January 1858
- Das Pensionat (operetta, 1 acts, C. K.), Theater an der Wien, 24 November 1860, vocal score (n.d.)
- Die Kartenschlägerin (Pique-Dame) (operetta, 1 act), Kaitheater, 26 April 1862
- Mädchen und kein Mann (operetta, 1 act, W. Friedrich), Kaitheater, 25 October 1862, vocal score (n.d.)
- Flotte Bursche (operetta, 1, J. Braun), Kaitheater, 18 April 1863, vocal score (n.d.)
- Das Corps der Rache (operetta, 1 act, J. L. Harisch), Carltheater, 5 March 1864
- Franz Schubert (Liederspiel, 1 act, H. Max), Carltheater, 10 September 1864
- Dinorah, oder Die Turnerfahrt nach Hütteldorf (parody opera, of Meyerbeer, 3 acts, F. Hopp), Carltheater, 4 May 1865
- Die schöne Galathée (Beautiful Galatea) (comic-mythological operetta, l act, Poly Henrion), Berlin, Meysels-Theater, 30 June 1865, vocal score (n.d.)
- Leichte Kavallerie or Die Tochter der Puszta (operetta, 2 acts, C. Costa), Carltheater, 21 March 1866
- Freigeister (operetta, 2, Costa), Carltheater, 23 October 1866
- Banditenstreiche (operetta, 1 act, B. Boutonnier), Carltheater, 27 April 1867
- Die Frau Meisterin (magic operetta, 3, Costa), Carltheater, 20 January 1868, vocal score (Leipzig, n.d.)
- Isabella (operetta, J. Weyl), Carltheater, 5 November 1869
- Tantalusqualen (operetta), Carltheater, 3 October 1868
- Lohengelb oder Die Jungfrau von Dragant (parody operetta of Wagner's Lohengrin, 3 acts, Costa, Grandjean), Carltheater, 30 November 1870
- Canebas (operetta, 1 act, J. Doppler), Carltheater, 2 November 1872
- Fatinitza (operetta, 3 acts, F. Zell, R. Genée), Carltheater, 5 January 1876, full score (n.d.)
- Der Teufel auf Erden (fantastic operetta, 3 acts, J. Hopp), Carltheater, 5 January 1878, vocal score (London, n.d.)
- Boccaccio (operetta, 3 acts, Zell, Genée), Carltheater, 1 February 1879, full score (Hamburg, n.d.)
- Donna Juanita (operetta, 3 acts, Zell, Genée), Carltheater, 21 February 1880, full score (Brussels, n.d.); arr. K. Pauspertl as Die grosse Unbekannte, 1925
- Der Gascogner (operetta, 3 acts, Zell, Genée), Carltheater, 21 or ?22 March 1881, vocal score (Hamburg, n.d.)
- Das Herzblättchen (operetta, 3 acts, C. Tetzlaff), Carltheater, 4 February 1882
- Die Afrikareise (operetta, 3 acts, M. West, Genée, O. F. Berg), Theater an der Wien, 17 March 1883, full score (Hamburg, n.d.)
- Des Matrosen Heimkehr (romantic opera, 2 acts, A. Langner), Hamburg, 4 May 1885, vocal score (Hamburg, 1885)
- Bellman (comic opera, 3 acts, West, L. Held), Theater an der Wien, 26 or ?24 February 1887
- Joseph Haydn (musical portrait with melodies by Haydn, F. von Radler), Theater in der Josefstadt, 30 April 1887
- Die Jagd nach dem Glücke (operetta, 3 acts, Genée, B. Zappert), Carltheater, 27 October 1888, full score (Hamburg, n.d.)
- Das Modell (operetta, 3 acts, V. Leon, Held), Carltheater, 4 October 1895, full score (Leipzig, n.d.) [completed by J. Stern and A. Zamara]
- Die Pariserin, oder Das heimliche Bild (operetta, 3 acts, Léon, Held), Carltheater, 26 January 1898 [arr. of Die Frau Meisterin, 1868]
- Suppè in the Österreichische Musiklexikon: "incorrectly also Suppé, Suppe Demelli."
- "The Johann Strauss Society of Great Britain - Contemporaries".
- "On Franz von Suppè's ancestors and his early years at Zadar". 17 November 2019. Archived from the original on 2022-12-06.
- Franz von Suppé – Britannica
- "Franz von Suppé – Encarta". Archived from the original on 12 September 2009.
- "Franz von Suppé – Stage Works", List of 50 stage works, The Guide to Light Opera & Operetta
- "Franz von Suppé – Composers". Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. Retrieved 2009-09-12. Most of this biographical information has been shown to be wrong by research in the last 10 years.
- ""Suppé [Suppè], Franz (von)" in Oxford Music Online". Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 2 October 2008. (subscription required)
- Studwell, William Emmett, The Americana Song Reader, Routledge, 1997, p. 73. ISBN 978-0789001504
-  Archived 2014-03-29 at the Wayback Machine Grooveshark.com: The Electronic Arp Synthesiser by Gordon Langford
- Blažeković, Zdravko. "Franz von Suppé und Dalmatien", Studien zur Musikwissenschaft: Beihefte der Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich, 43 (1994), 262–272.
- Gänzl, Kurt. The Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre (3 Volumes). New York: Schirmer Books, 2001.
- Traubner, Richard. Operetta: A Theatrical History. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1983
- Andreas Weigel: Franz von Suppè (1819–1895). Mensch. Mythos. Musiker. Ehrenbürger von Gars. Begleitpublikation zur Jubiläums-Ausstellung des Zeitbrücke-Museums Gars. Contributions by Andreas Weigel, Anton Ehrenberger, Ingrid Scherney and Christine Steininger. (Gars am Kamp) 2019. ISBN 978-3-9504427-4-8.
- Andreas Weigel: On Franz von Suppè’s ancestors and his early years at Zadar. Round table on Franz von Suppè at the University of Zadar. 15 November 2019.
- George Hamilton: Tall tales from the 'Father of Viennese Operetta'. In: Irish Independent. April 18, 2020.
- Georg Predota: A Matter of Discretion. Franz von Suppé, Therese Merville and Sofie Strasser. When did Suppé actually meet his two wives?
- Zadar Tourist Board: The Greatest Operetta Composer, Franz Von Suppè, Spent His Youth in Zadar.
- List of stage works by Franz von Suppé (with other composers)
- Works by or about Franz von Suppè at Internet Archive
- List of works by von Suppé at the Index to Opera and Ballet Sources Online
- Light Cavalry, performed by Andre Rieu
- Works by Franz von Suppé at Project Gutenberg
- Free scores by Franz von Suppè at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Free scores by Franz von Suppè in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Franz von Suppé recordings at the Discography of American Historical Recordings.