Georges Bizet, classical music composer

Georges Bizet

Biography

Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875). 

Georges Bizet was born on October 25th, 1838 in Paris. His father, Adolphe Armand Bizet, was an amateur singer and composer and his mother was the sister of François Delsarte, a well-known singing teacher. Just shy of his tenth birthday in 1848, Bizet was enrolled in the prestigious Paris Conservatoire where he studied composition, piano and organ. He was an exceptional student, winning first prizes for organ and fugue in 1855 and later the illustrious Prix de Rome. His earliest compositions come from his time as a student including a Symphony in C, written in 1855, that remained stored in the Conservatoire library and unknown to the music world until 1933. In addition, he developed a fine technique at the piano. Though Bizet never pursued a career as a concert pianist, and even detested the thought of doing so, his talents on the instrument were praised highly by none other than Franz Liszt.

As a requirement of his winning the Prix de Rome, Bizet spent three years studying in Rome. His skills grew as he spent time in the great city, producing works such as the opera buffa Don Procopio and his only sacred work, Te Deum. While touring Italy, he conceived of a symphony in which each movement would depict a different city of the Italian peninsula—Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples. The work had a remarkably long genesis and was never completely finished. Begun in 1861, a complete version was not produced until 1866. Bizet continued to revise the work through 1871, though he died before completing a final version.

Following his return to Paris, where he would spend the remainder of his life, Bizet produced two operas: Les pêcheurs de perles in 1863 and La jolie fille de Perth, based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, in 1866. While both were only marginally successful, Bizet's skill for composition was well-established by these works.

In 1873-4, Bizet produced his most well-known work and the one that would ultimately define his career: Carmen. Based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, the opera premiered on March 3rd, 1875. During its composition, Bizet put his intellect to the test in an attempt to produce the finest work possible. Though it ran for thirty-seven performances in the three months after its premiere, its somewhat unenthusiastic reception was a blow to Bizet. Nevertheless, the opera eventually drew the praise of Bizet's contemporaries. Even Johannes Brahms considered it the greatest opera produced in Europe since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Regretfully, Bizet did not live to see Carmen's full success. Three months to the day after its premiere, Bizet died of heart failure at the young age of 36. Though immediately dropped by the Opéra-Comique, Carmen made its way to the major cities of Europe and America, including Vienna, London and New York City, and eventually even spread to Russia. Three years later, it was staged again in Paris to great success and ever since it has been one of the most well-known and oft-performed operas.


Composer Title Date Action
Georges Bizet Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games) 01/15/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georges Bizet Carmen 01/10/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georges Bizet Carmen Fantasy (arr. Francois Borne) 03/11/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georges Bizet Carmen Variations (White House Edition) 10/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
Georges Bizet Duet from The Pearlfishers 07/16/2012 Play
Georges Bizet Final scene, from Carmen (in Russian) 04/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Georges Bizet je crois entendre encore 10/11/2012 Play
Georges Bizet Duet Au fond du temple saint, from Les pêcheurs de perles 10/20/2013 Play Add to playlist