Bizet, Georges (opera) (Alexandre César Léopold )
- Hugh Macdonald
(Alexandre César Léopold )
(b Paris, Oct 25, 1838; d Bougival, nr Paris, June 3, 1875). French composer . His short career was very largely devoted to opera in various genres, reaching a remarkable climax in 1875 with the supremely well-crafted Carmen. This is one of the best-known of all operas, yet it followed a succession of complete, incomplete and projected works (a total of 30 in Winton Dean’s listing in The New Grove) which had no great success in his lifetime. He planned many operas of which no trace remains; only six operas survive in a performable text.
Bizet’s father was an amateur singer and composer, and his mother came from a musical family, being the sister of the famous singing teacher François Delsarte. His childhood was steeped in music, and he began to attend the Paris Conservatoire in October 1848, just before his tenth birthday. He developed extraordinary gifts as a pianist and score-reader and won prizes for both piano and organ playing. His teachers included Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann for piano and Fromental Halévy for composition, and he came strongly under the influence of Gounod at this time. For much of his career he worked as rehearsal pianist and score arranger, and he thus had an unrivalled familiarity with the current repertory of Parisian theatres....