Georges Bizet

Biography

Born: 1838   Died: 1875   Country: France   Period: Romantic
Known for one of the world's most popular operas, Carmen, Georges Bizet deserves attention as well for other works of remarkable melodic charm. Many of his works received cool receptions on their premieres but are now considered central to the repertory of classical music.

Bizet was born in Paris on October 25, 1838, and grew up in a happy, musical family that encouraged his talents. He learned to read music at the same time he learned to
Read more read letters, and equally well. Entering the Paris Conservatory before he was ten, he earned first prize in solfège within six months, a first prize in piano in 1852, and eventually, the coveted Prix de Rome in 1857 for his cantata Clovis et Clotilde. His teachers had included Marmontel for piano and Halévy for composition, but the greatest influence on him was Charles Gounod, of whom Bizet later said "You were the beginning of my life as an artist." Bizet himself hid away his Symphony in C, written when he was 17, feeling it was too much like its models, Gounod's symphonies. The two years spent in Rome after winning his prize, would be the only extensive time, and a greatly impressionable one, that Bizet would spend outside of Paris in his brief life. When he returned to Paris, he lost confidence in his natural talents and began to substitute dry Germanic or academic writing for his own developing idiom. He composed a one-act opera for production at the Opéra-Comique, but the theater's director engaged him to write a full-length opera instead, Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers). It was not a success at the time, but despite a few weaknesses, the work was revived in 1886, and its sheer beauty has earned it a respected position among the lesser-played operatic repertory. In 1863 Bizet's father bought land outside Paris where he built two bungalows, one of which Bizet frequently used as a compositional retreat. He began a friendship (apparently not a physical one) with a neighbor-woman named Céleste Mogador, a former actress, author, courtesan, circus rider, and dance-hall girl. She is said to have been the model for his masterpiece's title role of Carmen. Bizet earned his living as an accompanist and publishing house arranger. Meanwhile, he poured his creative efforts into an immense five-act opera in the grand tradition, Ivan IV, but it was never performed. This proved to be a pattern for the rest of his career. Bizet would work hard to get an opera produced, and even if he did, it would usually receive only a handful of performances. Bizet's corpus of unfinished works is large, and testifies to his unsettled existence and his difficulty in finding a place in France's notoriously hierarchical and conservative musical world. In 1869 Bizet married Geneviève Halévy, daughter of his teacher. The marriage did not turn out to be a happy one, primarily due to her family's history of mental illness. In 1872, Bizet's splendid incidental music for the play L'arlèsienne was poorly received, but when the composer assembled the music into an orchestral suite for a November performance, it found great acclaim. At last confident of his creative vision, Bizet was able to steer his final masterpiece through various obstacles, including the objections of singers and theater directors who were shocked by Carmen's subject matter. When the opera had its premiere on March 3, 1875, it was received barely well enough to hang on for future productions. Although it took audiences only a few weeks to catch on, Bizet died convinced it was a failure. Read less
Bizet: Carmen / Kleiber, Domingo, Obraztsova, Mazurok
Release Date: 06/30/2015   Label: Arthaus Musik  
Catalog: 109096   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: L'arlésienne: Suite no 2

 

L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Pastorale
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Intermezzo
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Minuet (from 'La jolie fille de Perth')
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Farandole
About This Work
In 1879 the Opéra Comique in Paris staged its wildly successful revival of Georges Bizet's opera Carmen. Public response to Bizet's music ran so strong that publishers began to clamor for more of his music -- such as could be found, since the Read more composer had died four years early. Bizet's friend and amanuensis Ernest Guiraud turned to the task of evaluating what could be edited for publication of Bizet's surviving manuscripts. Girard had an intimate knowledge of Bizet's musical style, and it was he who had already transformed the few bits of spoken dialogue within Carmen into neat recitative.

It was quickly apparent to Girard that he had undertaken no easy task. Bizet had only arrived at his signature style some six years before his death, and precious little of Bizet's time had been devoted to the composition of original works. Much of it had been taken up with projects designed to pay the bills, primarily in creating piano/vocal scores of operas by his more celebrated contemporaries such as Gounod and Reyer -- works that are forgotten today.

Nonetheless, by 1880 Girard had decided to embark on constructing a second suite from Bizet's incidental music for Alphonse Daudet's 1872 play L'Arlesienne as companion to the composer's own suite. None of the 27 cues that Bizet had written for L'Arlesienne were very substantial in and of themselves, and Bizet had already mined most of the good ones himself. Also, the original work was written for a theater orchestra of less than 30 players. Girard decided to use Bizet's own L'Arlesienne Suite as a model for how to deal with enlarging the original orchestration, and as a result the second L'Arlesienne Suite resembles the first in terms of instrumental color.

The Pastorale that opens this suite was the most complete bit of music that Bizet had composed for L'Arlesienne that he hadn't used in the previous offering; the rest of the work posed a problem. Girard solved it by reprising part of the "Minuetto" from the first suite to flesh out the "Intermezzo" of the second, dovetailing the too-short "Farandole" into a reprise of the "Pastorale," and borrowing another minuet from an unrelated work, Bizet's opera La Jolie Fille de Perth. Later, Girard further borrowed the "Intermezzo" he'd created for this suite, added choral parts, and created the well-known Agnus Dei which bears Bizet's name. This latter work has to be considered spurious, considering its origins.

Despite the cut-and-paste method through which the second L'Arlesienne Suite was put together, it holds up fairly well to the first, and the two are quite frequently performed and recorded together. Both L'Arlesienne Suites constitute a major cornerstone in middle Romantic French orchestral literature, a field in which there are many contenders; few have held the public interest for as long and as well as these two suites of Bizet and Girard.

-- Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide Read less

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Georges Bizet


WORKS
Prélude
Introduction: "Sur la place chacun passe"
Que chercez-vous, la belle?
Marche et Choeur des gamins: "Avec la garde montante"
"Halte! Repos!" / "Une jolie fille est venue"
Et la garde descendante
Dites-moi, brigadier
"La cloche a sonné"
Dans l'air, nous suivons des yeux la fumée
Mais nous ne voyons pas la Carmencita?
"Quand je vous aimerai?"/Havanaise: "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"
Scène: "Carmen, sur tes pas nous nous pressons tous!"
"Monsieur le brigadier?" / Duo:"Parle-moi de ma mère!"
Votre mère avec moi sortait de la chapelle
Ma Mère, je la vois!
Tu la verras! Eh bien!
Choeur: "Au secours!"
Ah! enfin! un peu de silence!
Chanson et Mélodrame: "Avez-vous quelque chose à ré- pondre?..." "Tra la la la ...."
Vous êtes si jeune, seigneur officier
"Près des remparts de Séville"
Final: "Le lieutenant! Prenez garde..."
Entr'acte
Chanson: "Les tringles des sistres tintaient"
Vous avez quelque chose à nous dire...?
Choeur et Ensemble: "Vivat! vivat le Toréro!"
Couplets: "Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre"
Messieurs les officiers, je vous en supplie
Quintette: "Nous avons en tête une affaire!"
En voilà assez
Chanson: "Halte-là! Qui va là?"
Enfin ... Tu as mis le temps!
Duo: "Je vais danser en votre honneur"
"La fleur que tu m'avais jetée"
Non, tu ne m'aimes pas!
Final: "Holà! Carmen! Holà!"
Suis-nous à travers la campagne
Entr'acte
Introduction: "Ecoute, compagnon, écoute!"
Carmen, ne me fuis pas...
Trio: "Mêlons! Coupons!"
Carreau! Pique! ...La Mort!
Parlez encore, parlez
"Alerte!!!" - Morceau d'Ensemble: "Quant au douanier, c'est notre affaire!"
Nous y sommes, petite...
Air: "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante"
Mais .. je ne me trompe pas...
Je suis Escamillo, Toréro de Grenade!
Final: "Holà! holà! José!"
Halte! quelqu'un est là qui cherche à se cacher!
Entr'acte
Choeur: "A dos cuartos!"
"Qu'avez-vous fait de la Carmencita?" - Choeur et Scéne: "Les voici! les voici!"
Si tu m'aimes, Carmen...
Duo final: "C'est toi!" / "C'est moi!"
L'Arlésienne - Incidental Music, Suite No.1 (2000 Digital Remaster): Prélude
L'Arlésienne - Incidental Music, Suite No.1 (2000 Digital Remaster): Menuet
L'Arlésienne - Incidental Music, Suite No.1 (2000 Digital Remaster): Adagietto
L'Arlésienne - Incidental Music, Suite No.1 (2000 Digital Remaster): Carillon
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Pastorale
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Intermezzo
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Minuet (from 'La jolie fille de Perth')
L'Arlésienne - Suite No.2 (orch. Ernest Guiraud) (2000 Digital Remaster): Farandole
Bizet: Carmen - Overture (Prelude)
Bizet: Carmen - Entracte (between Act I & II)
Bizet: Carmen - Entracte (Between Act II & III)
Bizet: Carmen / Act 3 - Entr'acte
Symphony in C (2000 Digital Remaster): Allegro vivo
Symphony in C (2000 Digital Remaster): Adagio
Symphony in C (2000 Digital Remaster): Allegro vivace & Trio
Symphony in C (2000 Digital Remaster): Allegro vivace


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