Deshayes [Des Hayes, des Hayes, Deshays], Prosper-Didier
- Michael Barnard
- and Mary Hunter
(b mid-18th century; d Paris, 1815). French composer, dancer and teacher. He first acquired fame as a dancer. He danced at least once at the Comédie-Française in 1762 and was ballet-master there by 1764; he was an adjoint at the Opéra in 1774. In 1777 he made his début as a composer at the Concert Spirituel, and during the following ten years his compositions were performed there 25 times – the fourth-largest number of presentations of works by a native composer in that period. He was dismayed by the foreign domination of French musical life and, in response to an unfavourable review of his oratorio Les Macchabées (1780), wrote ‘It is unfortunate for a French musician to have been born in his own country’. He was master of dance at the Ecole Royale de Chant from its establishment in 1784 and made his début as an opera composer the following year with ...