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Bizet, Georges (Alexandre-César-Léopold)locked

  • Hugh Macdonald

(b Paris, Oct 25, 1838; d Bougival, nr Paris, June 3, 1875). French composer. Bizet might have surpassed all the many composers active in France in the last third of the 19th century had it not been for his untimely death at the age of 36. Carmen, first performed three months before his death, has become one of the most popular operas of any age.

1. Life.

Both of Bizet’s parents were musical. His father, Adolphe-Armand Bizet (1810–86), came from a family of artisans in Rouen. He had set up in Paris as a hairdresser and wigmaker, but by the time of his marriage in 1837 he had become a singing teacher. He was also a modest composer, with a few published works, but he was evidently not very highly regarded as a musician, even by his son, who leaned more towards his mother’s guidance. She, born Aimée Delsarte (1815–61) in Cambrai, came to Paris to stay with her brother François Delsarte, a singing teacher of much greater eminence than his brother-in-law and a champion of the works of Gluck and of classicism in general at a time when such things were receding from fashion. Delsarte was a musician of eccentric and unorthodox tastes who exercised an important influence on his brilliant nephew, and his wife, a professor of solfège at the Conservatoire, was yet another musician in the family. Bizet’s mother taught him to read music alongside his other early lessons, and she probably taught him the piano too.

Bizet was his parents’ only child, and they called him Georges in preference to his three grander baptismal names. The family lived in the northern part of Paris, and the proximity of six Delsarte cousins provided the boy with company. Bizet’s musical gifts were evident at an early age. He liked to listen outside the door of the room in which his father was teaching. At the age of eight his father called him in and was astonished to hear him sing a song he had heard without looking at the music. The following year Bizet’s father decided to enrol him at the Conservatoire, and there is little doubt that he was admitted on merit alone, even without the support of Delsarte and his connections. He enrolled on 9 October 1848, while still nine years old. For the next nine years the Conservatoire, not far from his home, was the centre of his life and the focus of his rapid musical development as pianist and composer. He was never in danger of becoming too narrowly wedded to music since he was already an avid reader and a boy of unusual intelligence. Of Auber, the Conservatoire’s elderly director, Bizet always had a poor opinion, but he was blessed with sympathetic teachers. He started in Marmontel’s piano class, and won a premier prix for solfège within six months of his arrival. Zimmerman, Marmontel’s predecessor now in retirement, took an interest in the boy and gave him private lessons in piano and solfège. Marmontel’s efficacious teaching turned Bizet into a brilliant pianist, soon to be well known for his exceptional gifts as a sight-reader. He won a second prix for piano in 1851 and a premier prix the following year.

In 1852 Bizet entered Benoist’s organ class and a year later he began to take the composition class of Fromental Halévy, a composer of distinction with an enquiring mind. Unlike many other Conservatoire teachers, Halévy had a busy career in other spheres, for his operas were regularly staged at the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique, and in 1854 he became Permanent Secretary of the Institute, a position of immense prestige in French academic circles. Bizet was undoubtedly drawn by Halévy’s interest in a wide range of intellectual pursuits, and he was later to be on intimate terms with his family; Geneviève, Halévy’s daughter, became his wife. In 1854 he won a second prix for both organ and fugue, and in 1855 a premier prix for both.

Equally important for his development, and more crucial to the growth of his musical style, was the figure of Gounod, certainly the leading influence on Bizet in his formative years. Bizet probably encountered Gounod through Zimmerman, whose daughter Gounod married in 1852. Gounod is said to have deputized for the ailing Zimmerman on a number of occasions and thus acted as Bizet’s teacher. The works which most impressed Bizet were Sapho, played at the Opéra in 1851, the choruses for Ponsard’s tragedy Ulysse, played at the Comédie-Française in 1852, and the First Symphony (1855). ‘You were the beginning of my life as an artist. I spring from you’, Bizet told Gounod in later years. Each took a close interest in the other’s work for many years, although there were times when their friendship was less close. A substantial correspondence survives.

Bizet’s impressive record at the Conservatoire led inexorably to the institution’s highest accolade, the Prix de Rome. He entered in 1853, when he was 14, but was eliminated after the preliminary round. He did not compete again until 1856 when he reached the final round. Although his cantata David was judged to be the best, he was awarded only a second prix; there was therefore little surprise in his winning the Prix in 1857, when two premiers prix were awarded, to Bizet and to Charles Colin. His cantata Clovis et Clotilde was performed at the Institute ceremony on 3 October 1857, and he left for Rome the following December. He was 19 years old.

Behind this successful academic record Bizet was rapidly maturing as a composer and pianist. His first surviving works are a handful of piano pieces from before 1854. In that year three of his songs appeared in print, two of them in a collection that included one of his father’s. Again through the agency of his father in all probability, three piano pieces were published in Le magasin des familles, beginning with a Méditation religieuse in 1854 or 1855 and two further piano pieces in 1856. Bizet’s true gifts as a composer spring into view in 1855 with the composition of his first opera, La maison du docteur (although little is known about its origin or precise date), an overture in A major, and with his earliest work to have entered the repertory, his Symphony in C. Not performed until 1935, this symphony reveals an extraordinarily accomplished talent for an 17-year-old student, in melodic invention, thematic handling and orchestration (fig. 1 ). Few contest its claim to surpass Gounod’s First Symphony, on which Bizet was working as arranger that year and which was clearly his model.

In 1856 Bizet composed his second opera, a setting of Le docteur Miracle by Léon Battu and Ludovic Halévy. Offenbach had picked these two novice librettists to provide a one-act text for a competition designed to raise the status of operetta. Ludovic Halévy was Fromental’s nephew just embarking on a remarkable career. He was later to supply Offenbach with many of his successful texts, and won immortality as one of the librettists of Carmen. The jury for the competition, which included both Fromental Halévy and Gounod, awarded the prize equally to Bizet and Charles Lecocq, so that the two winning works were staged on consecutive evenings in April 1857 at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens. The award of the Prix de Rome a few months later confirmed his striking prospects of a successful career.

At the same time Bizet was beginning to earn recognition in the public arena as an arranger of other composers’ music for Parisian publishers. This was to become a major source of income in later years and also a tremendous drain on his precious time. Since he did not arrange the Ulysse choruses in 1852, as often supposed, his first certain assignment was the vocal score of Gounod’s La nonne sanglante in 1855, followed by the arrangement for four hands of the Gounod symphony, published by Colombier. He seems to have preferred this labour to giving piano lessons, although it is certain that he was active as a piano teacher during his Conservatoire years.

The sojourn in Rome filled nearly three years, taking him away from Parisian music from December 1857 until September 1860. The events that he most regretted missing were the appearance of three new Gounod works at the Théâtre Lyrique, Le médecin malgré lui in January 1858, Philémon et Baucis in February 1860, and especially Faust in March 1859. But he had a lively taste for Italian music, particularly Rossini, and was not averse to turning his hand to a fresh style. Italy offered Bizet, like most Prix de Rome winners, an opportunity to explore the landscape, drink in Italian art and architecture, listen to Italian opera, and be lazy or hard-working at will. He felt free, perhaps for the first time, to indulge his taste for women and to remain youthful for a few years more. Throughout this period he maintained a regular correspondence with his mother, reporting every fortnight on his doings and providing the most substantial body of letters of his whole career.

The Parisian Bizet had never travelled far from the city, so the impression made by the landscapes of southern France and northern Italy was profound. In addition he set eyes for the first time on the sea. He travelled with a group of fellow pensioners, sailing from Genoa to Livorno, and stopping in Pisa, Siena and Florence en route. Their destination was the Villa Medici in Rome, home of the French Institute under its director Victor Schnetz, and here Bizet settled in for a long and very agreeable stay. He made regular excursions into the mountains and in his second year went further afield first to Anzio, then to Naples and Pompeii. In his third year he went north to Perugia, Assisi, Bologna and Venice on his way home to Paris. He delighted in the art and architecture that was everywhere to be seen, and enjoyed the company of country people more than the citizens of Rome, especially since the French were politically suspect, thanks to Napoleon III’s tireless meddling in Italian affairs.

He was a gregarious member of the French community at the Villa Medici, much in demand for his fluent piano-playing and his lively, rather blunt character. He enjoyed social occasions and made many new friends, especially among the painters and sculptors that shared the premises. In April 1858 a new arrival, Edmond About, boulevardier and travel writer, ruffled a few feathers but became a friend who genuinely admired his music. There were few musicians there to interest Bizet until the arrival in 1860 of Ernest Guiraud, whom he had known before in Paris and who was to remain a lifelong friend.

High spirits and his delight in the Italian way of life could not mask a certain anxiety about his prospects as a composer and the progress of his work. He was frustrated too by the lack of good music to be heard in Rome. He did not grasp the significance of Verdi’s striking advances in the 1850s, for he disliked Un ballo in maschera (which was first heard in Rome in 1859) and felt that his music was crude and lacking in true style. He was much more attached to Rossini, Mozart and Mendelssohn, forgetting for a moment the basis of his own style in Meyerbeer and Gounod. Conforming with the rather easy-going regulations of the Prix de Rome, Bizet sent one envoi each year and started to make a habit of pondering new projects and abandoning them after a little thought (and sometimes a few drafts and sketches).

He composed a Te Deum in the spring of 1858 and entered it for the Rodrigues prize, which was open only to Rome prizewinners. Nevertheless he did not win, ascribing his failure partly (and correctly) to his lack of experience in church music, and the Te Deum remained unpublished until 1971. His next work was an opera buffa, Don Procopio, entirely in the Italian style on an Italian libretto by Carlo Cambiaggio which had already been set by the younger Fioravanti in 1844. This was far more congenial to Bizet than choral music, but he submitted it in some apprehension since it was implied in the Institute’s regulations that he should write a mass. In fact it was well received and the judges commented on its ‘easy and brilliant touch’. There was no prospect of staging it, however, and it remained unperformed until 1906.

His next step was to attempt a grand opera. Three subjects took his fancy in turn: Hugo’s LaEsmeralda, Hoffmann’s Le tonnelier de Nuremberg and Cervantes’s Don Quichotte, but it is unlikely that he composed much, if anything, for any of these. Self-doubt kept intervening, so he moved on each time to another project. An ode-symphony on Homer, Ulysse et Circé, was considered then abandoned, then an orchestral symphony, on which he worked for two months. Finally, in 1859, he worked out a scenario from de Camões’s Lusiad relating Vasco de Gama’s adventurous discovery of a sea-route to India. He persuaded a French poet resident in Rome, Louis Delâtre, to write the verses for an ‘ode-symphonie’ (the model was Félicien David’s Le désert) in six movements for soloists, chorus and orchestra. When Vasco de Gama was ready to be submitted to the Institute, Bizet felt that he had never written anything so good, and it was in due course judged to display ‘elevation of style, spaciousness of form, fine harmonic effects, and rich and colourful orchestration’. He planned a symphony on the subject of Italy which was not to be finished until eight years later. What he had achieved during his stay in Rome was not embarrassingly insignificant, yet not truly substantial enough to give him, or anyone else, much confidence about his making his way in Paris on his return. He was perfectly resigned to the struggle that lay ahead, but curiously blind to the realities of the musical profession and frequently assailed by agonies of doubt.

He left Rome in July 1860 with Guiraud, taking a leisurely detour through north Italian cities and reaching Venice on 5 September. Here he learned that his mother was seriously ill; Guiraud returned to Rome while Bizet headed on to Paris. He was now thrust back into the routine that was to be his for the remainder of his life: the eternal quest for opera engagements, courting directors, patrons and singers, offering compositions to reluctant publishers, organizing and conducting occasional concerts, working as a rehearsal pianist and accompanist, and making transcriptions and arrangements of other composers’ works for money (the vocal score of Reyer’s La statue, which he greatly admired, occupied him in the spring of 1861). Bizet never again travelled outside France (except to Baden-Baden and Belgium), and rarely left Paris. Without the steady bulletins of his letters home we now have sketchier information about his daily life, and his correspondence is practical and laconic; his handwriting, never good, becomes increasingly illegible. The production of four operas in Paris in the next 15 years are landmarks in his brief career, but between those significant moments it is a tale of struggle, with some successes and many reverses.

For two years, while his Rome scholarship continued, he had no need to worry about money. His mother’s illness brought different anxieties, and he was not able to set up separate living quarters as he had hoped. In his first year back in Paris the highlights were the performances of Tannhäuser at the Opéra in March 1861, with Wagner’s ignominious rejection by a noisy public, and the occasion two months later when Bizet had the opportunity to meet Liszt and display his phenomenal powers as a sight-reader, an event recounted by Pigot with the aura of legend; Liszt is said to have declared Bizet to be the equal, as a pianist, of von Bülow and himself. In September 1861 his mother died at the age of 45; relations with his father, who was to outlive him by 11 years, had never been entirely easy, and they were sharply complicated the following year by the birth of a son, Jean, to the family maid, Marie Reiter. The boy was given to believe that he was Adolphe Bizet’s child, yet many years later Marie, who remained in the service of the Bizet household, revealed that the true father was Georges. Another death that affected Bizet deeply was that of his teacher and mentor Halévy in March 1862.

For his 1861 submission to the Institute Bizet presented two movements from an incomplete symphony and an overture, La chasse d’Ossian. The two symphony movements, a Funeral March and a Scherzo, were played at the Institute on 12 October, and while the March was thought to resemble the slow movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony too closely, the Scherzo enjoyed some success with three more performances within 16 months. Although the overture has disappeared, the March, still unpublished, was partly absorbed into Les pêcheurs de perles, and the Scherzo became part of the symphony Roma, completed in 1868.

In the next few years he was extremely productive, and his career prospered. Soon after his return from Rome he had asked Ludovic Halévy for the libretto of a one-act opera to submit as his final envoi, but he never followed it up, perhaps because he was offered La guzla de l’émir, a libretto by Barbier and Carré, Gounod’s usual librettists, which he could not refuse. The opera was composed in 1862 and submitted as his envoi for that year. It was warmly commended for its elevated feeling and vivacious style, but Bizet abandoned it when a superior commission, for a full-length work, came from the Théâtre Lyrique, a condition of which was that the recipient should not have had a work previously staged in Paris. This was to be Les pêcheurs de perles, composed rapidly in the summer of 1863. La guzla de l’émir has disappeared, although it is certain that parts of it were absorbed by Les pêcheurs de perles and perhaps other works, and a setting by Théodore Dubois of the same libretto was staged in 1873.

In the concert hall Bizet had some success with his Scherzo, for it was played by three different organizations in the winter of 1862–3: the Cercle de l’Union Artistique conducted by Deloffre, the Concerts Populaires conducted by Pasdeloup, and the Société des Beaux-Arts conducted by Bizet himself. On 8 February 1863 he conducted Vasco de Gama at a concert of the Société des Beaux-Arts, its only hearing in his lifetime. Despite all this activity he began to feel the pinch of financial insecurity as his scholarship came to an end. He was working as an arranger for Gounod’s publisher Choudens, a liaison that was to have far-reaching implications for the fate of his own music since Choudens was also to become Bizet’s principal publisher, starting with Les pêcheurs de perles in 1863.

This work, Bizet’s first full-length opera to be staged and today restored to the repertory, was commissioned by the Théâtre Lyrique in April 1863 for performance that September. Borrowing freely from earlier works, Bizet completed the score in time and had the satisfaction of seeing 18 performances before the end of November. This was a respectable number, but Bizet regarded it as a failure, particularly in view of the hostile reaction from the press, who condemned the libretto as absurd and the score as noisy and offensive. Some were shocked by the impudence of Bizet, at the age of 24, appearing on stage at the end to take a bow. One of the best notices came from Berlioz, writing his last feuilleton in the Journal des débats, who recognized Bizet as a serious talent with a great future. Bizet was, reciprocally, thrilled by Berlioz’s Les Troyens à Carthage, which was put on in the same theatre a few weeks later. He even offered to fight a duel in its defence.

Carvalho, director of the Théâtre Lyrique, with characteristically reckless courage regarded Les pêcheurs de perles not as a failure but as evidence of promise. He immediately invited Bizet to compose Ivan IV for production in the spring of 1864. Gounod had worked on this libretto for some years but gave it up in June 1863, but Carvalho’s promises of performance soon evaporated. This state of affairs continued for nearly two years when Bizet, in frustration, withdrew the opera from the Théâtre Lyrique and offered it to the Opéra. It was, after all, more suited to that theatre, being closer to the Meyerbeer style than anything else he ever wrote. But the Opéra never took it up and it remained unperformed until 1946. Fragments of it, according to Bizet’s well-established habit, found their way into later works, notably La jolie fille de Perth.

The years 1864–6 were disappointingly bleak after the previous two. His father had built two adjacent cottages at Le Vésinet, west of Paris, for himself and his son, where Bizet liked to spend the summer months, while he spent the winters in Paris largely occupied with his work as an accompanist and arranger. He arranged the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria for piano solo, and edited Handel’s ‘Harmonious Blacksmith’ variations; he assembled a collection of 150 transcriptions for the publisher Heugel under the title Le pianiste chanteur; he arranged six Gounod choruses for piano solo. He also published a little music of his own, including the song Vieille chanson and a group of piano pieces, the virtuoso Chasse fantastique, and the six Chants du Rhin, based on poems by Méry. Heugel commissioned a collection of six songs, the Feuilles d’album. He took a few composition students, to one of whom, Edmond Galabert, we are indebted for some affectionate memories of Bizet in the years 1865 to 1869 and a volume of correspondence that reveals much about Bizet’s view of his art. Another student, Paul Lacombe, began to work with Bizet in March 1867 by correspondence and remained a close friend.

Despite his lack of interest in Ivan IV, Carvalho still had faith in Bizet’s talent. In June 1866 he signed a contract for a four-act opera to be staged at the Théâtre Lyrique. The libretto, based on Scott’s The Fair Maid of Perth, was by Jules Adenis, a friend of Bizet’s, and the eccentric, successful Saint-Georges. Bizet’s response was immediate and enthusiastic, and by the end of the year La jolie fille de Perth was finished. He was impatient to see it staged, especially since the 1867 Exposition Universelle promised to bring big summer crowds to Paris. In fact it was to be Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette on which Carvalho relied for his summer success, so La jolie fille de Perth after several postponements did not open until December. It was well received, and Bizet was delighted, yet it did not draw the public and enjoyed only 18 performances, the same number as Les pêcheurs de perles in the same theatre four years before. The precarious state of the theatre’s finances was reflected in the recycled sets and costumes that did not escape notice. A production in Brussels followed in April 1868, but Bizet disliked the performance and it made little impact there. Pierre Berton later recalled that it was disappointment over this opera that marked Bizet’s brow henceforth with ‘furrows of anxiety that he never lost’.

1867 brought a crop of new competitions, one from each of the three main Paris opera houses, and one for a hymn and a cantata for the Exposition. Bizet, one of 823 contestants for the hymn, came within the first 15, but his cantata was not performed and is now lost. The winning cantata by Saint-Saëns did not receive a performance either. At first Bizet did not intend to enter the Opéra’s competition since he was negotiating for a contract with that theatre for an unnamed opera on a libretto by Sauvage and Leroy. Instead he encouraged his pupils Galabert and Lacombe to set the selected libretto, an appealing story called La coupe du roi de Thulé by Blau and Gallet. The correspondence with Galabert discusses the dramatic potential of the libretto in some detail. Eventually Bizet was prevailed upon to set the text too, which he did between October 1868 and the early months of 1869. But his opera was rejected, like Massenet’s, in favour of Eugène Diaz’s setting, played in 1873 and instantly forgotten. The dismemberment of Bizet’s score, of which only fragments remain, is one of the most galling features of his posthumous fate.

Since 1866 his creative activity had returned to the level of 1862–3. He now completed his Second Symphony, first conceived in 1860. It was performed (lacking the scherzo) in February 1869 by Pasdeloup at the Cirque Napoléon under the title Souvenirs de Rome, fantaisie symphonique, its only hearing in Bizet’s lifetime. He contributed the first act of a composite operetta Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre played at the Théâtre de l’Athénée two weeks before La jolie fille de Perth. He composed three songs for Choudens to publish, including the masterly Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe, and an unusual piano piece, the Variations chromatiques, which he dedicated to a composer he greatly admired, Stephen Heller. A huge amount of time in 1867 was devoted to arranging the whole of Thomas’s Mignon, the current success at the Opéra-Comique, first for piano solo and then for piano duet; the following year he performed the same two laborious tasks for Thomas’s Hamlet.

It is not known when Bizet first met Geneviève, the younger daughter of his teacher Fromental Halévy, although he must have known her as a little girl when he was Halévy’s student at the Conservatoire. When her father died in 1862 she was 13. Her sister died two years later, and her mother, who suffered from recurrent mental disturbance, thereafter entrusted her care to relatives. She was a beautiful young woman with whom Bizet was in love by 1867 and they were engaged in October of that year. But the family, prosperous Jewish bankers on her mother’s side who were in the strange position of being both wealthy yet currently hard up, disapproved of her marriage to an unsuccessful composer and the engagement was broken off. Had her father been alive, Bizet’s path to marriage might have been smoothed. In the event they were married in a civil ceremony (Bizet had no tolerance for established religion) in June 1869 and were very happy for a while. But Bizet’s lack of serious success, his brusque character and her persistent neurosis touching on mental disorder, made the last years of Bizet’s short life less than tranquil. A son Jacques was born to them in 1872, destined for a turbulent and tragic career.

Immediately after his marriage Bizet paid homage to his father-in-law by completing and orchestrating the opera Noé, which Halévy had left unfinished at his death. With his usual parsimonious instincts he used up some old music for this purpose, including sections of Vasco de Gama, but certain parts of it were newly composed. The extent of Bizet’s contribution has never been fully established, and the vocal score published when the opera was finally performed in Karlsruhe ten years after Bizet’s death has confused the issue further. The opera was supposed to have been staged at the Théâtre Lyrique under its new director Pasdeloup, but the usual financial problems and the outbreak of war in 1870 made it impossible. With Noé done Bizet started to plan a number of new works, some of which he had been contemplating for years; none of them were ever completed, some not even started: an opera on the life of Vercingetorix, an opera on Mistral’s Calendal for the Opéra-Comique, an opera on Richardson’s Clarissa, an opera on the Indian epic Ramayana, and a setting of Sardou’s libretto Grisélidis.

Lack of any firm commitment from opera managements would probably have left all these projects in limbo even without the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870. It was assumed that Napoleon III, like his uncle, would throw the German armies into retreat, but the realities of defeat, siege and humiliation quickly cast France into chaos. Bizet, who, like Saint-Saëns, Massenet and many others, enlisted in the National Guard, greeted the proclamation of the Third Republic with enthusiasm. He and Geneviève endured the hardships of the siege with grim determination. At the armistice on 26 January 1871 they were free to leave the city, so they travelled to Bordeaux to visit Mme Halévy. This caused distress of a quite different but equally severe kind, since the meeting of mother and daughter triggered hysterical outbursts on both sides. They hurried back to Paris with Geneviève in need of lengthy recuperation. Next came the two months of Commune and civil bloodshed from which they escaped by going first to Compiègne and then to Le Vésinet, within earshot of gunfire in Paris.

The restoration of peace in June brought with it the prospect of reinvigorating French music from within. Thomas took over the direction of the Conservatoire and Saint-Saëns put his energies into the new Société Nationale de Musique with the aim of building a new concert repertory by French composers. Within the year Bizet had completed two small masterpieces, leaving all his other projects on the shelf. The first was a one-act opera, Djamileh, commissioned by the new directors of the Opéra-Comique to a libretto by Gallet based on de Musset’s Namouna. It was staged in May 1872 and was poorly sung and poorly received, with only 11 performances, at some of which it shared the bill with Saint-Saëns’s La princesse jaune, his first opera to be staged. The other work of 1871 was the suite of 12 pieces for piano duet, Jeux d’enfants, with six of them also orchestrated. The orchestral suite (containing just five pieces) was rehearsed by Pasdeloup in 1872 but withdrawn by Bizet, then performed by Colonne a year later. The four-hands suite was published by Durand in 1872 and has remained popular among duettists to this day. Durand also published at this time Bizet’s transcription for piano solo of Schumann’s op.56 Etudes for pedal piano.

Despite the obscurity of Djamileh’s passing, Bizet was soon engaged to write his final two masterpieces, L’arlésienne and Carmen. The indefatigable Carvalho, Bizet’s patron at the Théâtre Lyrique, was now director of the Vaudeville theatre, where he planned to mount a production of Daudet’s play L’arlésienne. As with most incidental music of the period, the orchestra was small and the musical insertions mostly short. Bizet relied a good deal on the device of mélodrame, much used in opéra comique since the 1850s, where music is played under spoken dialogue. It was particularly well suited to this Provençal drama. The music was composed quickly in the summer of 1872 and the play opened on 1 October. It was not well received, and both Daudet and Bizet were bitterly discouraged. The musical press took little notice of incidental music for plays and the theatrical press found Bizet’s music too complex and demanding, but one or two musicians whose discernment Bizet appreciated, among them Reyer and Massenet, understood the special qualities of this music in the context for which it was designed.

Bizet quickly arranged four extracts from the music as a suite for full orchestra, and this was played by Pasdeloup in November. Its success was immediate and lasting, and the general familiarity of this music has generated occasional revivals of the play. His next task was to work once again for Gounod, preparing Roméo et Juliette for its revival (in a revised form) at the Opéra-Comique in January 1873. Gounod, who had fled to England to escape the siege of Paris, was entangled in London affairs and unable to be present himself. Bizet was then able to embark on the opera that du Locle and de Leuven, the Opéra-Comique directors, had proposed with Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy as librettists. Carmen, Mérimée’s novel from 1845, was Bizet’s own suggestion, but its risqué character and the fact that Carmen meets a violent death on stage at the end of the opera caused misgivings that split the two directors and held up the opera’s prospects of being staged.

We have little information about progress on the opera, although it is likely that much of it was composed if not orchestrated by the summer of 1873 when he began to discuss the choice of singers for the title role. But then he set the work aside, first to stand in again for the absent Gounod, assisting with his incidental music for Barbier’s play Jeanne d’Arc. Bizet helped with rehearsals, arranged the vocal score and transcribed the complete work for piano solo. He was also approached to write a new work for the Opéra. This was something that he could scarcely refuse, for the great baritone Faure was to play the leading role and the subject was to be based on the legendary Spanish hero El Cid, with a libretto by Gallet. Bizet could not have asked for a better proposition and he worked at incredible speed. Don Rodrigue, as the opera was called, was drafted by October of that year. Then the misfortune that never seemed to be far from Bizet’s heels struck again. The Opéra’s celebrated theatre in the rue Le Peletier, where the genre of grand opera had held sway during Meyerbeer’s long reign, burned down on 28 October 1873. Don Rodrigue had always, in any case, been Faure’s idea, not that of the director, Halanzier, who felt no obligation to pursue it now that he had no theatre of his own.

In the winter of 1873–4 Bizet composed a ‘dramatic overture’ Patrie, which was played by Pasdeloup on 15 February 1874 and was well received. Its main theme came from Act V of Don Rodrigue. He could then turn his whole attention to Carmen. In December 1873 Galli-Marié was engaged to sing the title role, which pleased Bizet since he considered her right for the part and since she had enjoyed enormous success at the Opéra-Comique in Maillart’s Lara in 1864 and even more in the title role of Thomas’ long-running Mignon since 1866. Rehearsals were repeatedly postponed, for de Leuven found the libretto unacceptable, a dilemma which was resolved by his resignation early in 1874. Du Locle, now sole director of the Opéra-Comique, was more sympathetic to the work, though never free of misgivings about the music or the public’s response to something so at odds with the conventional family entertainment for which the theatre was thought to exist.

Bizet’s marriage was clearly under strain at this time, and it probably never recovered. Georges was often moody, Geneviève in need of constant attention. They separated for at least two months, although they spent the summer of 1874 together in a villa in Bougival, not far from Le Vésinet. There she is said to have enjoyed the attentions of the eccentric pianist Delaborde, their neighbour, and gossip later linked Bizet’s name with Galli-Marié, a liaison which is not impossible in the backstage turmoil which the production of Carmen was to undergo, although neither of these suppositions can be substantiated with any certainty. The Halévy family later destroyed many papers and letters from this period, but who that action was intended to protect is not clear.

Carmen was orchestrated at Bougival in the summer of 1874 and rehearsals began in September. Bizet arranged the piano score himself and played the piano for rehearsals. There were objections from both the orchestra, who found Bizet’s forthright style of scoring beyond their reach, and the chorus, who were expected to act convincingly as individuals rather than respond in unison as a group. The women objected to having to both smoke and fight on stage. Fortunately Bizet was firmly supported by Galli-Marié and by Lhérie, the Don José, so that few compromises had to be made. The rehearsal period was prolonged and difficult, and the first performance was not given until 3 March 1875. The conductor was Deloffre.

Despite the outraged response of many of the audience and the generally hostile response of the press, Carmen was not a failure. It ran for 45 performances in 1875 and three more the following year, a respectable number. As many were attracted as were repelled, perhaps, by its scandalous tone, and the appalling misfortune of Bizet’s death may have awoken the curiosity of others.

Soon after the opening night Bizet suffered a recurrence of quinsy, which had often afflicted him before. He was undoubtedly depressed by the uncomprehending and ignorant tone of many of the reviews. This exacerbated the melancholy mood that had often beset him and may well have weakened his resistance to ailments from which in other circumstances he might have recovered. He was soon battling rheumatism and pain in his ears as well as the throat. Towards the end of May he moved with his family to Bougival, where he rashly went for a swim in the Seine, and on 30 May he suffered a severe attack of rheumatism followed by two heart attacks. He died in the early hours of 3 June, a few hours after the 33rd performance of Carmen. He was 36 years old. The funeral took place two days later at the church of La Trinité in Paris, and he was buried in the Cimetière Père-Lachaise.

In his Portraits et souvenirs Saint-Saëns spoke warmly of Bizet’s openness and lack of guile: ‘Loyal and sincere, he never hid either his friendships or his antipathies. This was a characteristic we both shared, although in other respects we differed completely, with different ideals. He was in search of passion and life, while I ran after the chimera of stylistic purity and formal perfection. Our endless conversations had a vivacity and delight that I have never enjoyed with anyone since.’ He admired the dogged resolution with which Bizet refused to be discouraged by misfortune. There was an impetuous, youthful element in his nature and a driving energy which concealed the thoughtful intelligence which was always at work.

2. Stage works.

Of the many operas that Bizet at one time planned or projected (30 in Winton Dean’s enumeration) only six now survive in a performable version, and only five were performed in his lifetime, none with any real success. Yet he was unmistakably a dramatic composer and Carmen is one of the great operatic masterpieces of the 19th century. It is true that he was dogged by ill-fortune, that he was not well provided with librettos, and that press reception was consistently unfair. Some of his best material came to nothing through no fault of his own. At the same time he suffered from deep uncertainties about the direction of his career and was inclined to spend a good deal of time on projects which he might have been wiser to avoid. There was little point in writing operas that would not be performed, yet the state of Parisian theatres was such that almost no guarantee could ever be given that a work once composed would receive any performances at all. He lacked Wagner’s dogged determination and he never enjoyed Verdi’s commanding authority over theatre managements even though the Théâtre Lyrique, in the person of Carvalho, served him well and showed a perceptive faith in his talent.

His operatic taste was wide: he could as readily compose farce as high drama; he admired both French and Italian opera; he was less troubled than modern critics by theatrical absurdities (in La jolie fille de Perth, for example), and except in Carmen, which opened the door to a new genre of realistic opera, he was no reformer or visionary. He came to maturity at a time when the traditional genres of French opera, both at the Opéra and at the Opéra-Comique, were falling into obsolescence, yet his operas belong unmistakably to his time. He owed various debts to Rossini, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, David, Gounod and Thomas, but he was more advanced than any of them in harmony and orchestration. His critics saw only Wagner in any technical advances they might observe but his brilliant touches of harmonic and orchestral colour owe nothing to Wagner.

His habit of self-borrowing is a reflection of his uncertain, even casual, attitude to the setting of texts. From Don Procopio to Carmen he constantly pilfered his scores for pieces to re-use in later settings. The result can be awkward declamation (as in Don José’s Flower Song), which never troubled him as it did Saint-Saëns or Massenet. He attached more importance to the sentiment and colour of words than to their metrical properties, and like Mozart, whose career his own in some respects resembles, he had a wonderfully sure feeling for the human voice. He thought deeply about the problems of dramatic music, as his letters testify, and had trenchant opinions about contemporary composers.

His first opera, the one-act La maison du docteur, exists only in vocal score and may not have been orchestrated. It was evidently written while he was a student. Le docteur Miracle, of 1856, also in one act, is an example of the newly emerging style of French operetta, spearheaded by Offenbach, a composer Bizet later came to despise. The centrepiece of the comedy is the ‘Omelette Quartet’ with its solemn and mock-heroic invocations to a poorly cooked omelette.

The next opera, Don Procopio, in two acts, is entirely Italian in style and spirit, with Cimarosa and Donizetti as its models. It is a brilliant, youthful work of great wit and invention. He infused a familiar idiom – vocal coloratura, patter declamation, swift-moving ensembles, and so on – with frequent original touches in harmony, orchestration and melodic style. One piece, a march, was borrowed from the Symphony in C; other sections were later used in Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth, including the famous Serenade from that opera.

Several operatic schemes passed through his mind before the next complete work, La guzla de l’émir, on a traditional Turkish story, the loss of which is much to be regretted. In all likelihood it was substantially re-used in Les pêcheurs de perles, composed immediately afterwards in 1863. This three-act opera, set in Ceylon in ancient times, was originally designed as an opéra-comique with dialogue, and is now, after Carmen, Bizet’s best-known work for the stage. The duet for Zurga and Nadir ‘Au fond du temple saint’ has become a popular hit familiar even to people who know nothing of opera. It is a noble melody accompanied with bald root-position triads and scored, on its first appearance, for flute and harp, a symbol of sanctity in French music of the time. Bizet relies heavily throughout on his great melodic gift, close in style to Gounod in this work, yet there is abundant evidence of his growing subtlety with harmonic and tonal colouring. The drama has a strong basis in the conflict between love and duty in the heart of Leïla, a priestess of Brahma, but it is inevitably weakened by its dependence on two separate vows pledged many years before, and the potential for conflict between jealousy and brotherly feeling is not given full scope, partly because space had to be found for the conventional apparatus of priests, dancing and incantation. The action strains credulity at times, although the ending, which shows an act of noble self-sacrifice by Zurga on behalf of the lovers who have deceived him, is powerful.

Ivan IV, Bizet’s longest work, is a grand opera conceived for a large cast and orchestra, with a setting in the Caucasus and the Kremlin in the 16th century. The action is full of villainy, usurpation, revenge, vows of fidelity to race and family, poison, dissembling and scenes of entertainment and fantasy. There is no attempt to disguise the grand opera clichés. Bizet’s invention is prodigal but without any real conviction, and some scenes are perfunctory or sentimental. He used many passages in later works. The orchestration of the last act is missing.

Of the shortcomings of La jolie fille de Perth, Bizet’s next opera, he was well aware, although he was probably not troubled by the remoteness of the libretto from Scott’s original. A persistent criticism, with which he privately agreed, was that the music had been ‘sacrificed to the false gods of the quadrille, the roucoulade, and the concessions of coloratura’. The soprano role of Catherine was written for the coloratura of Christine Nilsson, who never sang it. Making Catherine coquettish justified her treatment as a coloratura, which in turn required a mad scene in the last act. Bizet did not attempt any Scottish colour at all. The strength of the opera lies in the vitality of its set pieces and individual numbers. Scenes of festivity, ensembles of bewilderment or challenge, duets and solos of different types: all this draws out the best of his gifts, full of wonderful melodic, harmonic and instrumental invention. It is hard to accept that such a fresh score belongs to an unstageable opera, but its fate is always more likely to be in the form of extracts than as a dramatic continuum. Smith’s Serenade, the best-known piece from the opera and well worthy of its celebrity, was borrowed from Don Procopio.

The dismemberment of La coupe du roi de Thulé is a grave misfortune, since the fragments that remain provide evidence of Bizet’s acute sense of the stage and his growing maturity. In Winton Dean’s words, it ‘gives the first unmistakable sign of a tragic power that was to culminate in L’arlésienne and Carmen’. There are similar indications in the little that remains of Clarissa Harlowe and the more susbtantial fragments of Grisélidis. If Bizet had been able to complete and perform these three works, his legacy would have been infinitely richer. Don Rodrigue, too, survives in a tantalizingly incomplete form.

Djamileh, slight though its one-act opéra comique form and conventional orientalism may be, is a truly enchanting piece, full of inventive touches, especially of chromatic colour. There are opportunities for oriental melodies and dances, a comic servant and a dash of real passion. The role of the slave girl Djamileh is characterized from the beginning by a darkly expressive melody. Her main solo, the ‘Ghazel’, blends exotic colour, chromatic side-slips, suppressed passion and the key of D minor to give a strong foretaste of the Habanera in Carmen.

The nature of L’arlésienne forced Bizet to be economical, with only short passages of music for the most part and only a small orchestra, and in this he was triumphantly successful. The Prélude-Ouverture is an extended piece like the entr’actes that introduce each act, but elsewhere the music consists for the most part of brief mélodrames under dialogue. They succeed superbly in delineating character with pointed and expressive themes, while the longer movements suggest a Provençal tone, using genuine melodies from the region. Daudet’s drama has certain parallels with the story of Carmen, since the girl from Arles, who is never seen, bewitches Frédéri in rivalry with Vivette, a local girl of good family. On the eve of his wedding Frédéri is driven mad by thoughts of the unfaithful girl from Arles and he throws himself to his death. There is some lively music for the chorus, and the scoring is deft and apt, using a saxophone and a solo viola for special effects, plus the ‘tambourin’, a Provençal drum. The orchestral suite which Bizet fashioned out of four of the movements is scored for a larger orchestra. A second suite was put together by Guiraud after Bizet’s death, incorporating a Minuet from La jolie fille de Perth.

In Carmen the promise of dramatic genius sporadically but increasingly displayed by all his operas since Les pêcheurs de perles attains magnificent fulfilment. The characteristic handling of chromatic harmony and subtle scoring seen in the Jeux d’enfants suite and L’arlésienne is the foundation of a fully mature style on which a whole series of great works might have been built, had he lived. He reached maturity at the same age as Verdi and Wagner but was tragically deprived of the opportunity to explore and exploit it. But at least Carmen is recognized as one of the greatest of 19th-century operas, and certainly the most popular. Its tunes are familiar to millions, and its evocation of Spain, where Bizet never set foot, has done as much to propagate the elements of the style as Spanish music itself.

Carmen’s framework is that of a traditional opéra comique, with spoken dialogue, two-verse couplets with choral refrains, some comic relief, and opportunities for local colour and exotic dances. The subsidiary characters were familiar to the genre: the comic pair Le Dancaïre and Le Remendado belong to a tradition going back to Auber’s Fra diavolo, and the secondary leading roles Escamillo and Micaëla have kindred characters in Gounod. But Bizet went far beyond expectations in fashioning a drama of high tension thanks largely to the outstanding characterization of Carmen herself and to a lesser extent that of Don José, the passionate lover driven to despair. The literature abounds in interpretations of the opera, from Nietzsche’s attempt to use it as a stick with which to beat Wagner, to more recent feminist readings which raise questions about patriarchal morality and the treatment of women as victims. Carmen’s brazen personality is starkly contrasted with Micaëla’s purity and innocence, but the contrast is not simply one of goodness and badness. Escamillo is the irresistible lure that entices Carmen from Don José, although the bullfighter, unlike the soldier, would never shed a tear over her infidelity. In Carmen the combination in abundance of striking melody, deft harmony and perfectly judged orchestration ensures the opera’s immortality. It magnificently transcends both the genre of opéra comique and the norms of 19th-century French music.

The world success of Carmen began with the production in Vienna in October 1875 and the provision of recitatives by Ernest Guiraud. Before its revival at the Opéra-Comique in 1883 it had reached 20 other cities from St Petersburg to Melbourne, since which time it has never been out of the repertory. It has been adapted in a bewildering variety of different screen and stage presentations and its music has been arranged for every imaginable ensemble.

3. Vocal works.

Much of Bizet’s early vocal music was written as exercises in composition and was not intended for performance. Such, for example, are the settings of Prix de Rome texts from earlier years: L’ange et Tobie is the beginning of a setting of the 1847 text; Herminie, a similar effort on the 1828 text; of Loyse et Montfort, a setting of the 1840 text, and Le chevalier enchanté, the 1843 text, only fragments remain, although they were once evidently substantial works. Le retour de Virginie, on the 1852 text, is complete, and so are Bizet’s cantatas of 1856 and 1857, David and Clovis et Clotilde. These are lengthy dramatic cantatas for three solo voices and orchestra which confirm Bizet’s skill and invention in this genre, and one passage, Clotilde’s ‘Prière! prière!’, stands out from the rest as a page of marvellous imagination and suggestiveness. An undated Chœur d’étudiants is a lively setting for male voices of a text from Auber’s Le lac des fées of 1839. Two choruses with piano accompaniment composed for the Prix de Rome preliminary rounds in 1856 and 1857 were published posthumously: Le golfe de Baïa, with a text by Lamartine, and La chanson du rouet, a light-hearted piece on a poem by Leconte de Lisle.

The Te Deum, composed in Rome in 1858, is Bizet’s largest choral work, but the genre of sacred choral music had little appeal for him and the music is disappointing. The lack of conventional counterpoint (except in the fugal ‘Fiat misericordia tua’) gives it an operatic flavour, and the soloists’ music is more rewarding than that for the chorus. His other choral music is scanty and miscellaneous. Saint-Jean de Pathmos is a setting for male voices of a poem by Hugo, and La mort s’avance! is a strange setting of a pious text for chorus and orchestra, almost unrecognizably based on two Chopin études.

The ‘ode-symphonie’ Vasco de Gama reflects its model, David’s Christophe Colomb, with some mélodrame for the opening narration and its evocation of the broad open sea, but it has too many characters and too little narrative for so brief a work. It contains two fine numbers, a Boléro for the young officer Léonard (a soprano), hinting at the lively Spanish colour of many later pieces, and the choral Prière offering thanks for the passing of the storm. Vasco da Gama, a bass, plays little part in the sequence.

In 1874 Bizet planned an oratorio Geneviève de Paris in emulation of Massenet’s Marie-Magdeleine, but he seems to have made no progress on it. His slight attachment to choral music is surprising in view of the high profile and vigorous activity of Orphéons and similar choral societies during his time, but it was a sphere he was never much drawn to, being always more attracted to the stage.

Bizet published some two dozen songs during his lifetime. The best of them were collected in the Vingt mélodies of 1873, although the currency of this Choudens collection has overshadowed the high quality of the six Feuilles d’album, published by Heugel in 1866. Choudens’s second anthology, the Seize mélodies, published posthumously in 1886, consists largely of songs Bizet retrieved from unfinished and unperformed operas. The two early romances of 1854 already show Bizet’s sleight of hand with keys and a distinct melodic gift. His best songs appeared in the years 1866–8, four from Choudens (including the masterly Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe), six from Heugel, and six from Hartmann. He admitted in a letter to Galabert that he composed the Heugel set ‘at top speed’. ‘I have chosen the words carefully’, he added, and indeed his wide choice of poets reflects his broad literary tastes. His treatment is frequently strophic, with the dramatist’s sense of effect when called for by the poem. While his accompaniment figures can be repetitive and too persistent and his word-setting less than fastidious, his writing for the voice is instinctively effective, and any suggestion of exotic effect is met with marvellous inventiveness; Hugo’s Guitare is a fine example, and the setting of a Ronsard sonnet is particularly sensitive.

4. Orchestral music.

The popularity of the Symphony in C and of transcriptions of L’arlésienne and Jeux d’enfants has overshadowed Bizet’s other orchestral music. The Symphony is indeed a work of remarkable freshness recalling early Mozart, at the same time looking forward to fine lyrical moments in the operas and even to the brilliant energy of Carmen. The early Première ouverture in A is equally fresh, with an Italian flavour. Bizet’s efforts to compose a second symphony in the 1860s left a fine Marche funèbre in F minor (still unpublished) and were finally realized in the posthumously published ‘Roma: 3me suite de concert’, in fact a symphony in four movements in C major (like the first symphony), completed in 1868. Only the last movement, Carnaval, a tarantella, is explicitly related to Italy, although much of the symphony was conceived during his Italian stay, and the first and third movements were given titles when the work was played by Pasdeloup in 1869: Une chasse dans la forêt d’Ostie and Une procession. The latter title suggests that the Marche funèbre was then the work’s slow movement. Another Marche funèbre (the title is probably inauthentic) in B minor, is a forthright and richly scored piece, originally intended as the prelude to La coupe du roi de Thulé. Bizet’s last orchestral work was the ‘dramatic overture’ Patrie of 1873, a weighty, sectional work with pompous, sentimental and balletic episodes in turn. By scoring some of the Jeux d’enfants and re-scoring scenes from L’arlésienne Bizet undoubtedly created his most effective and colourful orchestral music, for although his handling of the orchestra is usually deft and wonderfully imaginative, he can equally score with a rather clumsy fondness for octave doublings and exposed brass.

5. Piano music.

With the exception of the masterly Jeux d’enfants for four hands, Bizet’s piano music has never entered the pianist’s canon. The solo works are miscellaneous in genre and mostly too difficult for the amateur player. His early piano works reflect the Parisian virtuoso school and his own brilliant gifts as a pianist, yet despite the influence of Mendelssohn and Schumann in the Chants du Rhin, a set of six picturesque pieces from 1865, he never ventured on the larger forms. The Chasse fantastique (1865) is a brilliant virtuoso scherzo worthy of Alkan or Liszt. The only trace of Beethoven (whom Bizet enormously admired) is to be found in the curious Variations chromatiques (1868), a set of 14 variations and a coda on a slowly rising and falling chromatic scale. The technical challenge of such a design provoked ingenuity and novelty rather than any deeper musical satisfaction, and the piano writing is sometimes surprisingly awkward. So much of Bizet’s energy was devoted to writing piano reductions of operas that he never developed an interest in the solo piano genres. He responded better to the depiction of picturesque or dramatic vignettes, as in La bohémienne, the third of the Chants du Rhin, and especially in Jeux d’enfants. This set of 12 pieces for piano duet, composed in 1871, evokes the child’s world with exquisite skill, a fine example of high sophistication in the service of apparent naivety. Writing for four hands, Bizet was not tempted to throw in the big stretches and virtuoso leaps that make his solo works too daunting for many players.

6. Posthumous reputation.

The posthumous misfortunes suffered by Bizet’s music are unequalled in the history of music and have yet to be righted. His output is relatively small, yet much of it has circulated in seriously bowdlerized forms; titles and texts are commonly spurious in a multitude of different ways. Many of his autographs have disappeared while many of the surviving autographs are still unpublished. Critical editions exist only of his early piano music, L’arlésienne, Jeux d’enfants and Carmen. Bizet was himself careless in handling and presenting his music, complicated by his fondness for transferring music freely from one piece to another. His widow (who later became a society notable as Mme Emile Straus) was no more scrupulous in her concern for her husband’s legacy. But most of the blame for this sorry state of affairs can be laid at the door of the publishers Choudens, who issued unauthorized versions of many of the most important works in the years when Carmen first became a world success. Vocal scores of Les pêcheurs de perles, La jolie fille de Perth and Carmen were particularly affected, while anthologies of songs, piano transcriptions and orchestral suites included music with cuts and revisions, with new titles and new texts, and without any explanation or identification. Works published by Heugel or Durand have fared better, but even modern editions, such as Choudens’s 1951 score of Ivan IV, have been tampered with. The most controversial of modern scores is Fritz Oeser’s edition of Carmen (1964), which claimed, against powerful evidence to the contrary, to be representing Bizet’s intentions. New versions of Carmen continue to appear both on stage and in print.

Biographical studies of Bizet have fared better. As early as 1886 Charles Pigot, Bizet’s first biographer, had to contend with falsehoods contained in Arthur Pougin’s entry in the Fétis Supplément of 1878. The most important work of Bizet scholarship is due to Mina Curtiss, whose purchase of an enormous archive of Halévy and Bizet papers formed the basis for her detailed and compelling biography Bizet and his World (1958), and to Winton Dean, Bizet’s stalwart champion and the author of a number of important studies of his work. Recent work by Michel Poupet, Lesley Wright and Hervé Lacombe has further extended the range of scholarly enquiry.

The misrepresentation of Bizet’s music has persisted partly because Bizet has never been embraced by the French as a great national composer, and there has been little desire to seek out unfamiliar works or question the authenticity of the familiar ones. For many generations Carmen was preferred with Guiraud’s recitatives rather than with dialogue. It is no endorsement of this state of affairs to acknowledge that Bizet’s output is indeed uneven and that he was always capable of mediocre work within the less exalted tastes of his times. Flashes of future potential are to be found from the earliest years, but there is a lack of maturity and of focus until the last five years of his life. His brief fragmented career reveals many hesitations and false starts; his abundant musicality and brusque energy was channelled in many different activities, yet later generations have wished that it was serious dramatic composition that absorbed him wholly, and that his contemporaries might have spotted his genius earlier than they did. The spectacle of great works unwritten either because Bizet had other distractions, or because no one asked him to write them, or because of his premature death, is infinitely dispiriting, yet the brilliance and the individuality of his best music is unmistakable. It has greatly enriched a period of French music already rich in composers of talent and distinction.

Works

all first performed and published in Paris, unless otherwise stated; most autographs in F-Pn

Stage

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Title

Genre

Librettist

Composed

First performance

Remarks

La maison du docteur

oc, 1

H. Boisseaux

early

Vs, F-Pn

Le docteur Miracle

opérette, 1

L. Battu and L. Halévy

1856

Bouffes-Parisiens, 9 April 1857

Pn*; vs (1962)

Parisina

opéra

F. Romani

Projected, 1858

[untitled]

oc, 1

E. About

Projected, 1858

Don Procopio

ob, 2

C. Cambiaggio

1858–9

Monte Carlo, 10 Mar 1906

Pn*; vs (1905), fs (1906); Italian text

Esmeralda

opéra

after V. Hugo

Projected, 1859

Le tonnelier de Nuremberg

opéra, 3

after Hoffmann

Projected, 1859

Don Quichotte

opéra

after Cervantes

Projected, 1859

L’amour peintre

oc

Bizet, after Molière

1860

Unfinished, lost

La prêtresse

opérette, 1

P. Gille

Sketched, 1864

La guzla de l’émir

oc, 1

J. Barbier and M. Carré

1862

Lost, absorbed into other works

Les pêcheurs de perles

opéra, 3

Carré and E. Cormon

1863

Lyrique, 30 Sept 1863

Vs (1863), fs (1893), orch reconstructed, B. Cohen (London, 2002)

Ivan IV

opéra, 5

F. Leroy, H. Trianon

1864–5

Mühringen, nr Tübingen, 1946

Act V unfinished; Pn*; vs (1951)

La jolie fille de Perth

opéra, 4

J.-H. Vernoy de Saint-Georges and J. Adenis, after W. Scott

1866

Lyrique, 26 Dec 1867

Pn*; vs (1868), fs (c1891)

Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre

opérette, 4

P. Giraudin and W. Busnach

1867

L’Athénée, 13 Dec 1867

Bizet wrote Act 1 only; other composers were Legouix, Jonas, Delibes; lost

Les templiers

opéra, 5

L. Halévy and Saint-Georges

Projected, 1868

[untitled]

opéra

A. Leroy and T. Sauvage

Projected, 1868

La coupe du roi de Thulé

opéra, 3

L. Gallet, and E. Blau

1868–9

Frags., Pn

Noé

opéra, 3

Saint-Georges

1868–9

Karlsruhe, 5 April 1885

Completion of Halévy’s unfinished work; vs (1885), fs (1886)

Vercingétorix

opéra

E. Délérot

Projected, 1869

Calendal

opéra

P. Ferrier

Projected, 1870

Rama

opéra, 4

E. Crépet

Projected, 1870

Clarisse Harlowe

oc, 3

P. Gille and A. Jaime, after S. Richardson

1870–71

Sketches, Pn

Grisélidis

oc, 3

V. Sardou

1870–71

Sketches, Pn

Djamileh

oc, 1

Gallet

1871

OC (Favart), 22 May 1872

Vs (1872), fs (1892)

L’arlésienne

incidental music

A. Daudet

1872

Vaudeville, 1 Oct 1872

Pn*; vs (1872); 4 movements arr. as suite for orchestra

Sol-si-ré-pif-pan

opérette, 1

Busnach

1872

Château d’eau, 16 Nov 1872

Lost

Don Rodrigue

opéra, 5

Gallet and Blau, after Corneille

1873

Unfinished; draft, Pn

Carmen

oc, 4

H. Meilhac and L. Halévy after P. Mérimée

1873-4

OC (Favart), 3 Mar 1875

Pn*; vs (1875), fs (?1877)

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Orchestral

View large

Title

Composed

First performance

Remarks

Overture, a-A

c1855

26 Oct 1838

(Vienna, 1972), Pn

Symphony no.1, C

1855

Basle, 26 Feb 1935, cond. Weingartner

(Vienna, 1935), Pn

Symphony

1859

Begun twice, destroyed Dec 1859

Scherzo et Marche funèbre, f

1860–61

Institut, Nov 1861

Scherzo later used in Symphony no.2; Marche, Pn

La chasse d’Ossian, ov.

1861

Lost, perhaps first movt of Symphony no.2

Symphony no.2, C

1860–68,

28 Feb 1869, Cirque Napoléon, cond. Pasdeloup

(1880, as Roma)

Marche funèbre, b

1868–9

12 Dec 1880, Châtelet, cond. Colonne

(1881); originally Prelude to opera La coupe du roi de Thulé

Petite suite

1871

2 March 1873, Odéon, cond. Colonne

Nos.2, 3, 6, 11, 12 from Jeux d’enfants for pf duet (1882); these and no.8, Pn

L’arlésienne, suite no.1

1872

10 Nov 1872, Cirque d’hiver, cond. Pasdeloup

(1873); Suite no.2 is by E. Guiraud; both considerably rewritten from original incidental music

Patrie, ov.

1873

15 Feb 1874, Cirque d’hiver, cond. Pasdeloup

(1874)

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Choral works and cantatas

View large

Title

Forces

Text

Composed

Remarks, publication

Valse

4vv, orch

Eugène Scribe

1855

(Mainz, 1978); the words are from Reber’s La Nuit de Noël

L’ange et Tobie, cant.

Léon Halévy

?1855–7

Pn; incomplete

Herminie, cant.

Vieillard

?1855–7

Pn; incomplete

Loyse et Montfort, cant.

E. Deschamps

?1855–7

Pn; incomplete

Le retour de Virginie, cant.

Rollet

?1855–7

Pn

Le chevalier enchanté, cant.

Marquis de Pastoret

?1855–7

Pn; incomplete

Choeur d’étudiants

male vv, orch

Scribe

?1855–7

Pn; the words are from Auber’s Le lac des fées

Le golfe de Baïa

S, T, 4vv, pf

A. de Lamartine

1856

Pn; Prix de Rome (1880)

David, cant.

G. d’Albano

1856

Pn; Prix de Rome

La chanson du rouet

solo v, 4vv, pf

E. Blau

1857

(1880)

Clovis et Clotilde, cant.

A. Burion

1857

Pn; Prix de Rome

Te Deum

S, T, 4vv, orch

1858

Pn (London and Hamburg,1971)

Ulysse et Circé, ode-symphonie

after Homer

Projected, 1859

Vasco de Gama, ode-symphonie

L. Delâtre

1859–60

Pn (1880)

Carmen saeculare

Horace

1860

?Unfinished; lost

Saint-Jean de Pathmos

male vv

V. Hugo

1865

(1874)

Les noces de Prométhée, cant.

R. Cornut

1867

Lost

La mort s’avance!

4vv, orch

Abbé Pellegrin

1869

Pn (1869)

Geneviève de Paris, orat

L. Gallet

1875

Projected

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Songs

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Title

Poet

Published

Remarks

La foi, l’espérance et la charité

R. de Lagrave

1854

La rose et l’abeille

O. Rolland

1854

Petite Marguerite

Rolland

1854

Vieille chanson

C.-H. Millevoye

1865

no.3 in Vingt mélodies (1873)

A une fleur

A. de Musset

1866

no.1 of Feuilles d’album (1866)

Adieux à Suzon

Musset

1866

no.2 of Feuilles d’album

Sonnet

Ronsard

1866

no.3 of Feuilles d’album

Guitare

V. Hugo

1866

no.4 of Feuilles d’album

Rose d’amour

C.-H. Millevoye

1866

no.5 of Feuilles d’album

Le grillon

A. de Lamartine

1866

no.6 of Feuilles d’album

Chants des Pyrénées

trans. J. Ruelle

1867

6 folksongs, with pf accomp.

Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe

Hugo

1867

no.4 of Vingt mélodies

Après l’hiver

Hugo

1867

no.15 of Vingt mélodies

Douce mer

Lamartine

1867

no.14 of Vingt mélodies

Rêve de la bien-aimée

L. de Courmont

1868

no.5 of Vingt mélodies

Berceuse sur un vieil air

M. Desbordes-Valmore

1868

no.11 of Vingt mélodies

La chanson du fou

Hugo

1868

no.12 of Vingt mélodies

Pastorale

Regnard

1868

no.9 of Vingt mélodies

La coccinelle

Hugo

1868

no.16 of Vingt mélodies

Ma vie a son secret

F. Arvers

1868

no.8 of Vingt mélodies

L’esprit saint

Cantiques de Saint-Sulpice

1869

no.19 of Vingt mélodies

Absence

T. Gautier

1872

no.13 of Vingt mélodies

La fuite

Gautier

1872

For two voices

Chant d’amour

Lamartine

1872

no.17 of Vingt mélodies

Tarentelle (1)

Canti populari toscani

1869

Italian text

Tarentelle (2)

E. Pailleron

1872

no.20 of Vingt mélodies, also orchestrated

Chanson d’avril

L. Bouilhet

1873

no.1 of Vingt mélodies

Vous ne priez pas

C. Delavigne

1873

no.7 of Vingt mélodies

Le portrait

Eugène Manuel

?1873

no. 15 of Seize mélodies as Pastel

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Unpublished songs (Pn)

Vocalise, 1849

Barcarolle [vocalise], 2S, 1849

L’âme triste est pareille au doux ciel (A. de Lamartine); Le colibri (A. Flan); Vœu (V. Hugo); Oh, quand je dors (Hugo)

Songs published in the Seize mélodies (1886)

La sirène (C. Mendès) (from La coupe du roi de Thulé); Voyage (P. Gille) (from Clarisse Harlowe); Aubade (P. Ferrier) (from Clarisse Harlowe); La nuit (Ferrier) (from Clarisse Harlowe); Le doute (Ferrier) (adapted from Symphony no.2); Conte (Ferrier) (from Grisélidis); Aimons, rêvons (Ferrier) (from La Coupe du roi de Thulé); La chanson de la rose (J. Barbier); Le gascon (C. Mendès) (from Grisélidis); N’oublions pas! (J. Barbier) (from La Coupe du roi de Thulé); Si vous aimez! (Gille) (from Clarisse Harlowe); Pastel (Gille) (from Le Portrait); L’abandonnée (Gille) (from Grisélidis)

Versions with new words by J. Barbier, published in 1887

Les nymphes des bois (version of La nuit); Le retour (version of Voyage); Rêvons (version of Aimons, rêvons!)

Keyboard

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Title

Composed

Instrument

Remarks, publication

1er Caprice original, c♯m

?1851

pf

2 versions (1984)

2me Caprice original, C

1851

pf

3 versions (1984)

Thème

?1852

pf

(1984)

Valse, C

?1852

pf

(1984)

Quatre préludes, C, a, G, e

?1852

pf

(1984)

Romance sans paroles, C

?1852

pf

(1984)

1er Nocturne, F

1854

pf

(1984)

Grande valse de concert

1854

pf

(1984)

Méditation religieuse

org, hmn or pf

(c1855)

Romance sans paroles, C

pf

(1856)

Casilda, polka mazurka

pf

(1856)

Trois esquisses musicales

harmonium

(1858)

Ronde turque

Sérénade

Caprice

Venise

pf

(1865) (from Les pêcheurs de perles)

Chants du Rhin

1865

pf

on poems by Méry (1866)

L’aurore

Le départ

Les rêves

La bohémienne

Les confidences

Le retour

Chasse fantastique

1865

pf

(1866)

Marine

pf

(1868)

1er Nocturne, D

pf

(1868)

Variations chromatiques

1868

pf

(1868)

Simplicité, valse à ne pas danser

1871

pf duet

The secondo part is by Bizet, the primo part by Massenet

Jeux d’enfants

1871

pf duet

(1872); nos.2, 3, 6, 8, 11 and 12 orchd Bizet

L’escarpolette, Rêverie

La toupie, Impromptu

La poupée, Berceuse

Les chevaux de bois, Scherzo

Le volant, Fantaisie

Trompette et tambour, Marche

Les bulles de savon, Rondino

Les quatre coins, Esquisse

Colin-maillard, Nocturne

Saute-mouton, Caprice

Petit mari, petite femme!, Duo

Le bal, Galop

Réception de Clapisson par Beethoven aux Champs-Elysées

pf

Lost

View large

Other works

Vocal scores
Gounod

Jeanne d’Arc (1873), La nonne sanglante (1855), La reine de Saba (1862)

Massé: Le fils du brigadier (1867)

Reyer: La statue (1861)

Erostrate (1862)

Saint-Saëns: Le timbre d’argent

Arrs. for pf solo
Gounod

Six choeurs, Méditation sur le 1er Prélude de Bach; Handel: L’harmonieux forgeron; Massenet: Scènes de bal, Scènes hongroises; Mozart: Don Giovanni (1866), L’oca del Cairo (1867)

Reyer: Erostrate (1862)

Thomas: Mignon, Hamlet; Le pianiste chanteur (6 vols.)

Arrs. for pf duet
Gounod

Gounod: Symphony no.1, Faust; Mozart: Don Giovanni (excerpts); Schumann, 6 Etudes; Thomas: Mignon, Hamlet

Piano-scandé

100 fragments tirés de divers auteurs

Misc

fugues and exercises, 1850–4, Pn, S-Smf; [Morceau à déchiffrer], bn, vc, 1874 (1970)

[Morceau à déchiffrer], ob, pf, 1874, US-Bm

Bibliography

    A Source materials. B Biographies, biographical studies. C Operas. D Other studies.

A: Source materials
  • V. Wilder: Obituary, Le ménestrel (4, 11, 18 July 1875)
  • E. Galabert: Georges Bizet: souvenirs et correspondance (Paris, 1877)
  • A. Marmontel: Symphonistes et virtuoses (Paris, 1881)
  • L. Gallet: Notes d’un librettiste (Paris, 1891)
  • H. Imbert: Portraits et études: lettres inédites de Georges Bizet (Paris, 1894)
  • Gounod–Bizet correspondence: Revue de Paris, 6 (1899), 677–703
  • L. Ganderax, ed.: Lettres de Georges Bizet: Impressions de Rome, 1857–1860: La Commune, 1871 (Paris, 1907)
  • H. Maréchal: Souvenirs d’un musicien (Paris, 1907)
  • G. Bizet: Lettres à un ami, 1865–1872, ed. E. Galabert (Paris, 1909)
  • Musica, no.117 (1912) [Bizet issue]
  • G. Servières: ‘Georges Bizet d’après les souvenirs de Pierre Berton’, Guide musical (8–22 March 1914)
  • J. Chantavoine: ‘Quelques inédits de Georges Bizet’, Le ménestrel (4 Aug–22 Sept 1933)
  • Exposition Georges Bizet au Théâtre national de l’Opéra [illustrated catalogue] (Paris, 1938)
  • RdM, 19 (1938), 129–58 [Bizet issue]
  • M. Curtiss: ‘Unpublished Letters by Georges Bizet’, MQ, 36 (1950), 375–409
  • G. Pitorno: Georges Bizet, Museo Teatrale alla Scala, 6 Dec 1975–10 Jan 1976 (Milan,1975) [exhibition catalogue]
  • M. Poupet: Le rétablissement de la partition originale des Pêcheurs de perles de Georges Bizet (Paris, 1976)
  • M. Poupet: ‘A propos de la mort de Bizet: une lettre inédite de Célestine Galli-Marié’, RdM, 63 (1977), 148–53
  • L.A. Wright, ed.: Georges Bizet: Letters in the Nydahl Collection (Stockholm, 1988)
  • C. Glayman, ed.: Georges Bizet: Lettres (1850–1875) (Paris, 1989)
  • C. Schwandt: Georges Bizet: mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten dargestellt (Reinbek, 1991)
  • L.A. Wright: ‘Gounod and Bizet: a Study in Musical Paternity’, JMR, 13 (1993), 31–48
B: Biographies, biographical studies
  • C. Pigot: Georges Bizet et son oeuvre (Paris, 1886, 2/1911)
  • C. Bellaigue: Georges Bizet: sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris, 1890)
  • H. Imbert: Georges Bizet (Paris, 1899)
  • P. Voss: Georges Bizet (Leipzig, 1899)
  • A. Weissmann: Bizet (Berlin, 1907)
  • H. Gauthier-Villars: Bizet (Paris, 1911) [actually by E. Vuillermoz]
  • G.M. Gatti: Giorgio Bizet (Turin, 1914)
  • P. Landormy: Bizet (Paris, 1924, 2/1950)
  • J. Rabe: Georges Bizet (Uppsala, 1925)
  • D.C. Parker: Georges Bizet (London, 1926, rev. 2/1951 as Bizet)
  • M. Delmas: Georges Bizet (Paris, 1930)
  • M. Bruk: Bize (Moscow, 1938)
  • M. Cooper: Georges Bizet (London, 1938)
  • W. Dean: Bizet (London, 1948, rev. 2/1965 as George Bizet: His Life and Works, enlarged 3/1975)
  • M. Cooper: ‘Georges Bizet’, The Heritage of Music, ed. H.J. Foss, 3 (London,1951), 108–23
  • P. Stefan-Gruenfeldt: Georges Bizet (Zürich, 1952)
  • M. Curtiss: ‘Bizet, Offenbach and Rossini’, MQ, 40 (1954), 350–59
  • M. Curtiss: Bizet and his World (New York, 1958)
  • F. Robert: Georges Bizet: l’homme et son oeuvre (Paris, 1965)
  • J. Klein: ‘Georges Bizet’s Tragic Son’, ML, 49 (1968), 357–66
  • A. Németh: George Bizet elete es müvei [Bizet: life and works] (Budapest, 1976)
  • M.S.K. Curtiss: Bizet and his World (Westport, CT, 1977)
  • F. Robert: Georges Bizet: l’homme et son oeuvre (Paris, 1981)
  • L.A. Wright: Bizet Before Carmen (diss., Princeton U., 1981)
  • M. Cardoze: Georges Bizet (Paris, 1982)
  • J. Roy: Bizet (Paris, 1983)
  • G. Corapi: ‘Bizet: l’ansia et la svolta’ [Bizet: anxiety and turning point], Musica, no.20 (1988), 25–60
  • M. Poupet: ‘Gounod et Bizet’, Cahiers Ivan Tourgéniev, Pauline Viardot et Maria Malibran, no.12 (1988), 113–30
  • R. Stricker: Georges Bizet (Paris, 1999)
  • H. Lacombe: Georges Bizet: naissance d’une identité créatrice (Paris, 2000)
C: Operas
  • L. Mastrigli: Giorgio Bizet: la sua vita e le sue opere (Rome, 1888)
  • H. Daffner, ed.: Friedrich Nietzsches Randglossen zu Bizets ‘Carmen’ (Regensburg, 1912, 2/1938)
  • F. Hühne: Die Oper ‘Carmen’ als ein Typus musikalischer Poetik (Greifswald,1915)
  • D. Imsan: Carmen: Charakter-Entwicklung für die Bühne (Darmstadt, 1917)
  • C. Gaudier: Carmen de Bizet (Paris, 1922)
  • E. Istel: Bizet und ‘Carmen’ (Stuttgart, 1927)
  • J. Tiersot: ‘Bizet and Spanish Music’, MQ, 13 (1927), 566–81
  • M. Cooper: Bizet: Carmen (London, 1947)
  • W. Dean: ‘An Unfinished Opera by Bizet’, ML, 28 (1947), 347–63 [on La coupe de roi du Thulé]
  • W. Dean: Carmen (London, 1949)
  • J.-P. Changeur: six articles on Ivan IV, La vie bordelaise (12 Oct–16 Nov1951)
  • H. Malherbe: Carmen (Paris, 1951)
  • W. Dean: ‘Bizet’s Ivan IV’, Fanfare for Ernest Newman, ed. H. Van Thal (London, 1955), 58–85; repr. in Essays on Opera (Oxford,1990), 262–80
  • W. Dean: ‘The True Carmen?’, MT, 106 (1965), 846–55; repr. in Essays on Opera (Oxford, 1990), 281–300
  • M. Poupet: ‘Les infidélités des “Pêcheurs de perles”’,RdM, 51 (1965), 170–200
  • J. Westrup: ‘Bizet’s La Jolie Fille de Perth’, Essays Presented to Egon Wellesz, ed. J. Westrup (Oxford, 1966), 157–70
  • W. Dean: ‘The Corruption of Carmen: the Perils of Pseudomusicology’, Musical Newsletter, 3/4 (1973), Oct, 7–12, 20
  • M. Koerth: Felsenstein inszeniert Carmen (Berlin, 1973)
  • H.E. Phillips: The Carmen Chronicle: the Making of an Opera (New York, 1973)
  • J. Klein: ‘Reflections on Bizet’s Djamileh’, MR, 35 (1974), 293–300
  • L.A. Wright: ‘A New Source for Carmen’, 19CM, 2 (1978–9), 61–9
  • L’avant-scène opéra, no.26 (1980) [Carmen issue]
  • W. Dean: Bizet: Collana autori ed opere (Turin, 1980)
  • N. John, ed.: George Bizet: Carmen (London and New York, 1982) [ENO opera guide]
  • J. Leukel: ‘Puccini et Bizet’, Revue musicale de Suisse romande, 35/2 (1982), 61–6
  • D. Maingueneau: Carmen, les racines d’un mythe (Paris, 1984)
  • F. Fornari: Carmen adorata: psicoanalisi della donna demoniaca (Milan, 1985)
  • F. Reckow: ‘“Cette musique est méchante, rusée, fataliste!” Un défi lancé a l’exégèse de Carmen de Bizet’,Les ecrivains français et l’opéra (Cologne, 1986), 197–214
  • L.A. Wright: ‘Les pêcheurs de perles: Before the Première’, Studies in Music, 20 (1986), 27–45
  • T. Beardsley: ‘The Spanish Musical Sources of Bizet’s Carmen’, Inter-American Music Review, 10/2 (1988–9), 143–6
  • L’avant-scène opéra, no.124 (1989) [Les pêcheurs de perles issue]
  • W.E. Girard: A Performing Version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen (diss., U. of Texas,1989)
  • E. Baker: ‘The Scene Designs for the First Performance of Bizet’s Carmen’, 19CM, 13 (1990), 230–42
  • K. Kaindl: ‘Stimme und Gestalt in der Opernübersetzung: am Beispiel Carmen von G. Bizet’, TEXTconTEXT, 6 (1991), 227–50
  • S. McClary, ed.: Georges Bizet, Carmen (Cambridge, 1992)
  • S. Oksanen: ‘Oopperakäännösten ongelmia: Esimerkkinä Bizet’n Carmen’ [Problems with opera translations: Bizet’s Carmen as an example], Synteesi, 12/2 (1993), 59–68
  • E. Gould: The Fate of Carmen (Baltimore, 1996)
  • H. Lacombe, ed.: Georges Bizet, Les pêcheurs de perles: dossier de presse parisienne (1863) (Heilbronn, c1996)
  • L.A. Wright: Carmen: Dossier de presse parisienne (Weinsberg, 2001)
  • L.A. Wright: ‘Bizet’s Ivan: Formed but not Finished’, Das Fragment im (Musik-)Theater: Zufall und/oder Notwendigkeit?, ed. Csobádi and others (Salzburg, 2005), 407–22
  • H. Lacombe: Les voies de l’opéra français au XIXe siècle (Paris,1997)
  • R.P. Locke: ‘Spanish Local Color in Bizet’s Carmen: Unexplored Borrowings and Transformations’, Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830-1914, ed.Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist (Chicago, 2009), 316–60
D: Other studies
  • R. Laparra: Bizet et l’Espagne (Paris, 1935)
  • W. Dean: Introduction to the Music of Bizet (London, 1950)
  • H. Shanet: ‘Bizet’s Active Symphony’, MQ, 44 (1958), 461–76
  • W. Dean: ‘Bizet’s Self-Borrowings’, ML, 41 (1960), 238–44
  • J. Klein: ‘The Centenary of Bizet’s L’Arlésienne’, ML, 53 (1972), 363–8
  • A. Renaudin: Georges Bizet et ses parents, en cinq enigmes (Yvetot, 1975)
  • G. Pintorno: Georges Bizet: la vita e la produzione teatrale (diss., U. of Parma, 1975–6)
  • M. Muller: L’oeuvre pianistique originale de Georges Bizet (diss., U. of Neuchâtel, 1976)
  • R. Luck: An Analysis of Three Variation Sets for Piano by Bizet, d’Indy and Pierné (diss., U. of Indiana, 1978)
  • J. Weiland: ‘Untergetaucht im Reich des Vergessens: Das Te Deum von Georges Bizet’, NZM, 149 (1988), 3–7
  • L.A. Wright: ‘Bias, Influence and Bizet’s Prix de Rome’, 19CM, 15 (1992), 215–28
  • R.P. Locke: ‘The French Symphony: David, Gounod, and Bizet to Saint-Saëns, Franck, and their Followers’, The Nineteenth-Century Symphony, ed. D.K. Holoman (New York and London, 1997), 163–94
  • L.A. Wright: ‘Bizet et le prix de Rome: de l’initiation à l’accomplissement’, Le Concours du prix de Rome de musique (1803–1968) (Lyon, 2011), 529–48
  • H. Macdonald: ‘Bizet’s Second Symphony’, Noter, annoter, éditer la musique : mélanges offerts à Catherine Massip, ed. Reynaud and Schneider (Paris, 2012), 539–50
  1. See also from The New Grove Dictionary of Opera: Carmen; Djamileh; Docteur Miracle, Le; Don Procopio; Ivan IV; Jolie fille de Perth, La; and Pêcheurs de perles, Les

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