Franz von Suppè: Werk und Leben

Kevin Clarke
Operetta Research Center
27 September, 2007

It was about time that someone finally wrote a modern biography of one of the world’s greatest operetta pioneers: Franz von Suppé (1819-1895), the man who brought the art form to Vienna and transformed it from something quite Parisian to something truly Austrian, thus pointing the way for future composers like Strauss and Millöcker. Not counting the rest of them… (Lehár, Kálmán, Straus.)

Hans-Dieter Roser's Suppé biography.

Hans-Dieter Roser’s Suppé biography.

The Viennese operetta-researcher Hans-Dieter Roser has given us a brand new book simply titled Franz von Suppè: Werk und Leben published by Edition Steinbauer. It is a landmark publication not so much because the facts surrounding Suppé’s life were unknown before but because Roser places the composer in the context of his time and gives us a great deal of historical material, mostly newspaper articles from the period. So instead of repeating ‘legends’ and ‘rumors’, Roser really presents facts and sources, and a lot of them. That distinguishes this Suppé-biography from other books published on the man before. And it also distinguishes Roser’s book from the many older operetta books published in Germany and Austria in the 1970s and 80s. Where hardly a single fact is checked and everything is copied and rephrased.

Even obscure Suppé works get full treatment here, and a very useful list at the end of all recordings slumbering in radio archives gives a hint of what should be issued on CD immediately – especially since the 50-year-copyright is out of date in many cases, e.g. a 1950s recording of Die schöne Galathée with Emmy Loose, Anton Dermota and Alfred Jerger as Mydas. It’s a post-war dream cast, a dream piece. So where is the CD?

In short: the book is a must read for anyone interested in Viennese operetta and the Austrian roots of the art form. My only whish: May there please be an English translation as soon as possible!

Hans-Dieter-Roser, Franz von Suppé: Leben und Werk, Edition Steinbauer 2007, 295 pages

 

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