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Franz and Karl Doppler were brothers, born in Poland but coming to musical maturity in Hungary, where both worked in theaters as flutists and composers. Franz subsequently moved to Vienna, where he was principal flute at the Hofoper and a ballet conductor and composer. Karl was the Kapellmeister in Stuttgart for over 30 years.
Early in their careers, the brothers regularly toured Europe together as a duo – Karl was left-handed and played the flute that way, making a symmetrical mirror image with his brother. Franz wrote or arranged much of the music that they played together, but the Fantasy on themes from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto is thought to be a collaborative effort. Rigoletto had its premiere in 1851, and this Fantasy dates from one of the Dopplers’ mid-’50s tours. Virtuoso mash-ups of the hit tunes from popular operas were mainstays of the repertory for touring artists on the model established by Liszt, and this one is a characteristic, ingratiating example, testing the technical mettle and entertaining skills of both soloists.