Danish composer and pianist Herman David Koppel was born in Copenhagen on 1 October 1908, shortly after his Jewish parents had moved from Poland to Denmark. He studied piano at the Royal Danish Conservatory with Emilius Bangert and Rudolph Simonsen, and privately with Anders Rachlew. Koppel was self-taught as a composer.
As a pianist, Koppel's solo repertoire included works by Bartók, Brahms, Henze, Milhaud, Mozart, Nielsen, Schoenberg and Stravinsky. He also accompanied singers, including his daughter, Lone Koppel, and played in the Koppel Quartet.
As a composer, he wrote much orchestral music, including seven symphonies and four piano concertos. His chamber music output includes a series of string quartets. He also wrote works for solo piano, oratorios, an opera, film music and works for stage and radio plays. During the Danish occupation in World War II, Koppel and his family lived in Sweden, and few of his works from the 1930s have survived.
Herman D Koppel (as he was known in Denmark) continued to perform and compose until the mid-1990s, and he died in Copenhagen on 14 July 1998, aged eighty-nine.