Life and education
Franz von Suppé's parents named him Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere Suppé Demelli when he was born on April 18, 1819, in Split, Dalmatia, Austrian Empire. His Belgian ancestors may have emigrated there in the 18th century. His father – a man of Italian and Belgian ancestry – 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 was a distant relative of Gaetano Donizetti. He simplified and Germanized his name when in Vienna, and changed "cavaliere" to "von". Outside Germanic circles, his name may appear on programs as Francesco Suppé-Demelli.
He spent his childhood in Zadar, where he had his first music lessons and began to compose at an early age. As a boy he had no encouragement in music from his father, but was helped by a local bandmaster and by the Spalato cathedral choirmaster. His Missa dalmatica dates from this early period. As a teenager in Cremona, Suppé studied flute and harmony. His first extant composition is a Roman Catholic Mass, which premiered at a Franciscan church in Zadar in 1832. At the age of 16, he moved to Padua to study law – a field of study not chosen by him – but continued to study music. Suppé was also a singer, making his debut as a basso profundo in the role of Dulcamara in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Sopron Theater in 1842.
He was invited to Vienna by Franz Pokorny, the director of the Theater in der Josefstadt. In Vienna, after studying with Ignaz von Seyfried and Simon Sechter, he conducted in the theater, 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.
Suppé's grave at the Zentral friedhof. Franz von Suppé died in Vienna on May 21, 1895, and is buried in the Zentralfriedhof.