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Tchaikovsky and Franz von Suppé

Dear Ladies & Gentlemen,

As Tchaikovsky has met most of the other famous composers of the second half of the 19th century during his many travels across Europe, I now wonder whether this has also been the case with Franz von Suppé (1809-1895) from Austria-Hungary, several of whose Overtures (especielly "Peasant and Poet" and "Cavallerie légère") are (still) word-famous. I have found no mention of Franz von Suppé in Tchaikovsky's diaries (German translation) or otherwise, but maybe there is a letter where he has mentioned something about Suppé.

Also, I wonder whether very much whether Tchaikovsky did like Suppé's music.

With many thanks in advance.

Guido Muehlemann
18/07/2012 11:06

For want of any comments by Tchaikovsky himself on Franz von Suppé’s music, the following testimony by a Russian contemporary may be of some interest. In her memoirs Anna Dostoevskaia recalls how she and her husband, while staying in Dresden in the spring of 1867, would often go for walks in the Großer Garten park:

“There was then a restaurant in the park called ‘Zur großen Wirtschaft’ where in the evenings they would play now military brass music, now orchestral music. The programmes of these concerts were sometimes quite sophisticated. Although my husband was not a connoisseur in music, he very much liked the works of Mozart, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Wedding March, and Rossini’s Air du Stabat Mater, and he would experience sincere delight when listening to these favourite pieces. Richard Wagner’s works, however, Fedor Mikhailovich did not like at all.

During these walks my husband would normally rest from all his literary and other preoccupations and was always in the most jovial mood; he would make jokes and laugh. I remember that the concert programmes featured some variations and a potpourri from Franz von Suppé’s opera Dichter und Bauer [Peasant and Poet] and that Fedor Mikhailovich took a liking to these variations thanks to the following chance episode: During a walk in the Großer Garten we somehow started quarrelling over a matter of principles and I expressed my opinion rather sharply. Fedor Mikhailovich broke off the conversation, and we walked to the restaurant in silence. I was irritated with myself for having spoilt my husband’s good mood, and in order to try to restore it, when they started playing the potpourri from Franz von Suppé’s opera, I remarked: “Why, this is about us”, i.e. that he was “Dichter”, whilst I was “Bauer”, and I began gently humming Bauer’s part. Fedor Mikhailovich liked my idea and he in turn started humming Dichter’s aria. We were thus reconciled by Suppé. Since then it became a habit with us to gently sing along to the music of the protagonists’ duet: my husband would hum Dichter’s part while I would hum Bauer’s. No one could hear us since we always sat far away, under ‘our oak tree’.”

(Quoted from the website: )

Luis Sundkvist
27/08/2012 20:58

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