Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Born Today April 18: Franz von Suppé


Opera composer Franz von Suppé was born on this day in Spalato, Dalmatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now part of Croatia) as Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere di Suppé-Demelli; this is why outside the German and English speaking world he is often credited Francesco Suppé Demelli.  His actual ethnicity was Italian-Belgian on his father's side, and Austrian on his mother's side.  He grew up in the then Dalmatian town of Zara (Zadar, Croatia).  His music education started very early and he was already composing before the tender age of 10.  Though his actual father gave no support for his interest in music, he had a sort of surrogate father in a local choirmaster that filled that role.  He also gained the interest of popular local band master.  He studied both flute and harmony.  The debut of his work came in 1832 with  Missa dalmatica, a Roman Catholic Mass that was performed at a Franciscan church in Zara.  At the age of 16, he relocated to Padua to study law, probably at the insistence of his actual father, but refused to give up the further study of music in addition to his legal studies.  There, he also began to perform as an opera singer.  Eventually he was invited to Vienna by a theater manager there, where he continued his music studies.  He was also invited to conduct in the theater as well.  He began to compose light operettas, and it these works that he is remembered for today.  He also became a producer of operas, at one point staging a successful production featuring opera sensation Jenny Lind.  His music has been featured in a surprising number of films, including the likes of Beetlejuice.  But the first time his work was featured in a film came in a "silent musical" from 1908.  Trio de Boccaccio was a Brazilian short that featured lyrics from one of his operettas on the title cards.  The first film to actually feature his music in sound was a very early talking musical short dating from 1927 in Bernado De Pace, a Warner Brothers film featuring sound by Vitaphone.  The first full length film that featured his compositions came in 1933 with the Swedish film Kära släkten.  The latest production to feature his music came in the Austrian television series Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker that features performances by the Vienna Philharmonic; televised in 2015.  Franz von Suppé died in Vienna on the 21st of May 1895 at the age of 76.  He is buried there in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

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