Born in Dublin, Ireland, Herbert's father died when Victor was 5 years old. His mother remarried to a German physician and Victor was raised in Germany. Victor was a cellist and my grandfather played violin and viola. The close friendship they formed while attending the Würzburg Musical Conservatory continued during their remaining years in Germany and after they came to the United States.
Herbert soon became one of the world's foremost cellists, composing two cello concertos still in the classical music repertory. After marrying Vienna Opera soprano Therese Forrester, Herbert and his wife decided to come to the United States. She was engaged by the Metropolitan Opera and Herbert was hired as the opera orchestra's principal cellist and assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
My grandfather had secured an appointment to the Buffalo Symphony and Herbert asked him to make the trip to New York with he and his wife. John Lund, then conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, was also conductor of the summer orchestra at the Saratoga Hotel. He engaged my grandfather for those engagements and was seeking a cellist. My grandfather recommended Herbert and the two old friends played together in the Saratoga Hotel orchestra for several summers (conductor Lund is seated in the front of players in the photograph.)
In the mid-1890s, Herbert began writing popular music, eventually becoming best known for his operettas. My grandfather wrote Herbert about the competition for a musical theme for the upcoming Pan American Exposition. Herbert composed a piece, entitled Pan Americana, and sent it to my grandfather for his opinion. Although my grandfather urged that Herbert enter it in the competition, Herbert was not certain it could win and asked for its return.
Before returning it, my grandfather copied Pan Americana and entered it in the competition under Herbert's name. The work won the competition and my grandfather was principal violist in the orchestra for the first performance of Pan Americana in the Temple of Music on October 14, 1901.
Conrad Toepfer Jr., 2001