David Popper

Austrian Born 18 Jun 1843 Died 07 Aug 1913

One of the greatest cellists of the late 19th century, David Popper also wrote in excess of 75 works, most of which were for his own instrument. Of these, his most important contribution to the following generations of cellists was the Hohe Schule des Violoncello-Spiels, a set of 40 studies, but his most popular concert piece is probably the Dance of the Elves.

Popper was born in Prague on 18 June 1843, the son of a cantor at two local synagogues. Although auditioning for the Prague Conservatory on the violin, he joined as a cellist due to a shortage of cello students. Popper quickly excelled at the instrument under the tutelage of Julius Goltermann and at the age of 18 was appointed assistant principal cellist of the Löwenberg Court Orchestra, becoming principal the following year.

Engaged by Bülow to perform as soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Popper also secured the post of principal at the Vienna Hofoper and the Vienna Philharmonic in 1868. He also played in the Hellmesberger and Hubay Quartets. In 1872 he married Sophie Menter, a pupil of Franz Liszt, though the marriage was dissolved in 1886, the year Liszt appointed him a professor at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music.

An exceptional cellist with a flawless technique and a warm tone, Popper championed new music of other composers in addition to writing his own. His intimate knowledge of the cello has ensured that cellists continue to hold his works in high regard, and recently his music has begun to reach a wider audience.

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