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David Popper

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Biography

David Popper was born in Prague in 1843, and studied music at the Prague Conservatory. He studied the cello under Julius Goltermann (1825-1876), and soon attracted attention. He made his first tour in 1863; in Germany he was praised by Hans von Bülow (who was also a son-in-law of Franz Liszt), who recommended him to a position as Chamber Virtuoso in the court of Frederick William, Prince of Hohenzollern. In 1864, he premiered Robert Volkmann’s Cello Concerto in A minor, Opus 33 with Hans von Bülow conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. He lost this job a couple of years later due to the prince’s death.

He then made his debut in Vienna in 1867, and was made principal cellist at the Hofoper. From 1868 to 1870 he was also a member of the Hellmesberger Quartet. In 1872, he married pianist Sophie Menter, a pupil of Franz Liszt who later joined the staff at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1873, Popper resigned from his post at the Hofoper so as to continue his tours with his wife on a larger scale, giving concerts throughout Europe.

In 1886, Franz Liszt recommended Popper to teach at the newly opened string department at the Conservatory at Budapest. In Budapest, he participated in the Budapest Quartet with Jenő Hubay. He and Hubay performed chamber music on more than one occasions with Johannes Brahms, including the premiere of Brahms’s Piano Trio Op. 101 in Budapest, 20 December 1886.

Popper died in Baden in 1913.

Among his notable students were Arnold Földesy, Jenő Kerpely, Mici Lukács, Ludwig Lebell and Adolf Schiffer (teacher of Janos Starker).

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