Karl Doppler (1825 - 1900)

Franz and Karl Doppler were both born in Lemberg (the modern Lvov, in Ukraine), Franz in 1821, Karl in 1825. Their father, a composer and oboist at the Warsaw Opera, gave them a strong musical foundation. Franz made his début in Vienna at the age of thirteen, before appearing in a duo with his brother. In 1838 he was principal flute in the German theatre in Pest and three years later took a similar position at the Hungarian National Theatre.

It was at this period that he made his début as a composer, writing several operas and contributing, with Ferenc Erkel, to the birth of national Hungarian music. With Erkel and his brother Karl he took part in 1853 in the establishment of the first Hungarian symphony orchestra. The two brothers took up again their concert tours, appearing in Weimar, where they met Liszt, and in 1856 in London, together with Karl Hubay, father of the famous violinist Jenő Hubay. They remained skilled performers on the French Tulou system keyed flute.

Franz settled in Vienna in 1858 as principal flute at the Court Opera. He became a conductor and, from 1865 and taught at the Vienna Conservatory. Karl Doppler followed his brother’s example, holding various positions as principal flute and composing a Singspiel and theatre music. His Honfi dal (Patriotic Song) was to remain a very popular piece in Hungary. In 1865 he settled in Stuttgart, where he served as Kapellmeister for 33 years.

The Dopplers’ compositions, sometimes written together, reflect the tastes of the period. They make great use of Hungarian themes, whether in Variations sur un air hongrois or Fantaisie sur des motifs hongrois, or in the famous Fantaisie pastorale hongroise, a fine piece akin in spirit to Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. Transcriptions and pot-pourris on melodies from operas were highly prized by the public, forms to which Liszt, Glinka and many other composers contributed.