About this Recording
8.570378 - DOPPLER, F. / DOPPLER, K.: Music for Flutes and Orchestra
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Franz Doppler (1821-1883) • Karl Doppler (1825-1900)
Music for Flutes and Orchestra


Preoccupied by opera, the symphony and the piano, romantic composers seem to have neglected certain instruments. Wind instruments, essential for orchestral colouring, inspired no notable works, whereas in the preceding century they had brought pleasure to a number of music-lovers. Important modifications in the structure of these instruments were not unrelated to this phenomenon, and it is true particularly in the case of the flute for which two systems co-existed for several decades.

In 1814 Weber, with his Sonata, Op. 39, brought to an end a golden age. The novelty was to come of players who, taking up the tradition and following the example of Paganini, were both composers and performers; the Doppler brothers were absolutely part of this, thus joining violinists such as Henryk Wieniawski or cellists such as David Popper.

The two Dopplers 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, taught at the Vienna Conservatory. He also orchestrated some of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies.

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. Virtuoso instrumentalists often shared their programmes with singers. Rigoletto and La Sonnambula were among the operas most often transcribed. Rigoletto fantaisie, Op. 38, for two flutes is a model of the genre. It was written by Karl and Franz Doppler and held an important place in their concerts, with salon pieces, variations and duets. The famous Duettino sur des motifs américains, Op. 37, quotes 'Hail Columbia', 'Boatman Dance'and 'The Star-spangled Banner', ending with the inescapable 'Yankee Doodle'.

The Concerto for two flutes, rediscovered by Jean-Pierre Rampal and Andras Adorjan, is a more ambitious work. Classical in structure and in three movements, it suggests the young Mendelssohn or Weber and gives prominence to the soloists.

Intended for recitals, all these pieces, with the exception of the Concerto for two flutes, were conceived with piano accompaniment. At Patrick Gallois' request they have been orchestrated by Risto Keinänen, Jukka-Pekka Lehto and Jani Killönen, bringing still more into evidence the virtuosity of the soloists.

Without breaking with tradition, the Dopplers were the precursors of the modern flute, the inspiration of the French school, of Borne and Génin.

Georges Boyer
English version by Keith Anderson


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