Personalities | Giacomo Meyerbeer | Early Romantic | Classical

(Ja’-ko-mo Mi’-er-bâr) 1791–1864
German composer

Meyerbeer (like Mendelssohn) came from a wealthy German-Jewish family. He studied composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter and later with the renowned music theorist Georg Joseph Vogler. In 1831 he had a phenomenal success at the Paris Opéra with Robert le diable (‘Robert the Devil’), which within three years was performed in 77 theatres in 10 countries, and he felt pressured for many years afterwards by the need to sustain and build on this achievement. His next major success was the his­torical opera Les Huguenots (1836), another of many collaborations with the librettist Eugène Scribe. Meyerbeer helped Wagner’s early career, although his generosity (financial and professional) was reciprocated only by Wagner’s adverse critical response to his work. Meyerbeer’s fascination with singers – he was often attracted to premieres by the performers rather than the music, and did much to promote the great Swedish soprano Jenny Lind – manifests itself through his lean orchestral accompaniment to extended solo vocal passages. He also explored highly innovative instrumental textures. His later operas include Le prophète (1849) and L’africaine (1865), and he wrote many songs and sacred works.

Recommended Recording:
Les Huguenots, soloists, New Philharmonia Orchestra (cond) Richard Bonynge (Decca)

Introduction | Early Romantic | Classical
Personalities | Stanisław Moniuszko | Early Romantic | Classical


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