Franz von Suppé or Francesco Suppé Demelli (18 April 1819 – 21 May 1895) was an Austrian composer of light operas and other theatre music. He came from the Kingdom of Dalmatia, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now part of Croatia). A composer and conductor of the Romantic period, he is notable for his four dozen operettas.
Franz von Suppé’s parents named him Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo when he was born on 18 April 1819 in Spalato, now Split, Dalmatia, Austrian Empire. His father was a civil servant in the service of the Austrian Empire, as was his father before him; Suppé’s mother was Viennese by birth. He simplified and Germanized his name when in Vienna, and changed “de” to “von”. Outside Germanic circles, his name may appear on programmes as Francesco Suppé-Demelli.
He spent his childhood in Zara, now Zadar, where he had his first music lessons and began to compose at an early age. As a boy he had encouragement in music from a local bandmaster and by the Zara cathedral choirmaster. His Missa dalmatica dates from this early period. As a teenager in Zara, Suppé studied flute and harmony. His first extant composition is a Roman Catholic mass, which premiered at a Franciscan church in Zara in 1835.
From 1840 on he worked as a composer and conductor for Franz Pokorny, the director of several theaters in Vienna, Pressburg, Ödenburg and Baden bei Wien. In Vienna, after studying with Ignaz von Seyfried and Simon Sechter, he conducted in the theatre, without pay at first, but with the opportunity to present his own operas there. Eventually, Suppé wrote music for over a hundred productions at the Theater in der Josefstadt as well as the Carltheater in Leopoldstadt, at the Theater an der Wien. He also put on some landmark opera productions, such as the 1846 production of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots with Jenny Lind.