Personalities | Ferdinando Paer | Early Romantic | Classical

(Fâr-de-nan’-do Pa’-er) 1771–1839
Italian composer

Paer was among the last of the group of Italian composers in demand as maestri di cappella, and together with Mayr dominated Italian opera in the first decade of the nineteenth century. He studied in Parma, but moved to Paris in 1807, when Napoleon, a great admirer of his work, appointed him maître de chapelle, and later director of the Opéra-Comique and the Théâtre-Italien. His operatic style owes much to Mozart, although his works often lack expressive concentration. He generally relied on vocal virtuosity rather than on harmonic devices for his dramatic effects; among his finest works are Camilla, ossia Il sotterraneo (‘Camilla of the Underworld’, 1799) and Achille (‘Achillis’, 1801), an opera seria based on the Iliad. In the 1820s his composition pupils included the young Liszt.

Recommended Recording:
Leonora, soloists, Bavarian Radio SO (cond) Peter Maag (Decca)

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