If you don’t know von Suppé’s music, you might have heard it without realising. A prolific composer of operetta, his colourful overtures seemed to appeal to Hollywood cartoon producers and – as such – the likes of Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Popeye all found themselves wise-cracking, dancing or eating spinach to his tunes.
The most famous is the appearance of Morning Noon and Night in Vienna in the 1959 Bugs Bunny classic Baton Bunny…
Born in what is now Split, Croatia, von Suppé’s Italian heritage (on his father’s side) meant he was baptised Francesco Suppé-Demelli. A move to Vienna (where his mother came from) to pursue music saw him Germanise his name.
A keen musician from a young age, though without his parents support, young Francesco played the flute, sang and studied harmony. His mentors in Zara (now Zadar) included the local cathedral choirmaster and a bandmaster.
His studies continued in Vienna and he found himself conducting theatre productions in Josefstadt and Leopoldstadt – including a performance of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots starring Jenny Lind.
Low, or no, pay in his early years on the podium was exchanged for composing opportunities and Franz went on to pen over 100 works for the Vienna stages.
Operettas such as Boccaccio, Die schöne Galathée and Fatintza remain the best known of the dozens he wrote, not to mention farce and ballet scores.
Did you know?
Von Suppé’s song ‘Das ist mein Österreich’, from his singspiel S’Alraunl is widely considered Austria’s second song?