Meyerbeer [Beer], Giacomo (opera) [Jakob Liebmann Meyer ]
- Steven Huebner
[Jakob Liebmann Meyer ]
(b Vogelsdorf, nr Berlin, Sept 5, 1791; d Paris, May 2, 1864). German composer . He was among the most important writers of French grand opera in the 19th century.
The Beer family was among the wealthiest in Berlin at the end of the 18th century. Meyer was the eldest son of Juda Herz and Amalia Beer and brother to the playwright Michael Beer; in 1810 the composer conflated his given and family names into Meyerbeer. He received a complete humanistic education from family tutors; music instruction came from the court pianist Franz Lauska, the theorist Abbé Vogler (who also taught Weber) and Carl Zelter (Mendelssohn’s teacher). Meyerbeer soon distinguished himself as a pianist, winning public acclaim for a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor at the age of 11, a notoriety gained (in an age replete with child prodigies) partly from a certain ‘exotic’ appeal of his Jewish background. His religion drew considerable (and sometimes adverse) attention throughout his career but, in accordance with a formal commitment to his family, he never contemplated conversion....