Ernest Reyer


Born: December 1, 1823   Died: January 15, 1909   Country: France  
French composer Ernest Reyer was quick to shine and slow to fade. In spite of the fact that he composed virtually nothing for the last forty years of his life, French music-lovers still cherished him when he died in early 1909. Reyer was born Louis-Étienne-Ernest Rey on December 1, 1823, and attended the Free School of Music in his hometown of Marseilles until he was 16 years old. His parents had no desire for him to make a musical career for Read more himself (they had doubts about his talents -- doubts that have frankly been shared by many musicians over the years: he has been described as a "genius without talent"), and Reyer was thrust into an administrative job. But he continued to compose, and after his 1847 Messe pour l'arrivée de Duc d'Aumale à Alger (Solemn Mass for the Arrival of the Duke of Algiers) was well-received at the Algiers Cathedral, he abandoned his administrative life for good.

Over the next decade and a half, Reyer, who had added the Germanic "-er" at the end of his name in an apparent effort to connect himself with the Germanic line of composers that he admired so much, made a name for himself as a composer of theater music -- operas and ballets. His one-act opera Maître Wolfram was praised by Berlioz at its 1854 premiere, and his first full-length opera, La Statue, which draws from the 1001 Arabian Nights, was a blockbuster success in 1861. Reyer was a famous man, and from 1862 on he had the decoration of the Legion d'honneur to prove it.

However, after the 1862 opera Erostrate (whose dedication to the Queen of Prussia caused some discomfort for Reyer when the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870), Reyer's output quickly slowed to a trickle. His next major work did not appear until midway through the 1880s (the opera Sigurd of 1884), and after that there is really only the five-act opera Salammbô (1890) to mark him as a composer. Reyer kept himself busy, however, writing music criticism, and he became as famous in this second vocation as he was in his first.

Reyer drew upon an interesting and even motley crew of composers in the development of his own style. He admired Wagner a great deal, but it has often and rightly been pointed out that very little of Wagner's influence can be heard in Reyer's work. He loved Weber, and here the influence does shine through, as does that of Berlioz and Schumann, though the latter to a much lesser degree. Reyer was a master orchestrator -- a far better orchestrator, it must be said, than a composer in the pure sense. Reyer composed very little music not for the theater; there are a few piano pieces and some cantatas and scenes for voices and orchestra (which are in some ways nearly theater pieces); there are a handful of chansons, and there is a single very rarely heard orchestral item, the March tzigane of 1865. Read less
Browse 1-15 of 15 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Heroique - French Opera Arias / Bryan Hymel
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564617950 Release Date: 02/24/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Hector Berlioz,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Bryan Hymel
    Conductor:  Emmanuel Villaume
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonia
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  • 2.
    My Life is an Opera / Roberto Alagna
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002267302 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Charles Gounod,  Anton y Michelena  ... 
    Performer:  Roberto Alagna,  Aleksandra Kurzak
    Conductor:  Yvan Cassar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 3.
    The Complete Arthur Endreze
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 55001 Release Date: 05/01/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Endrèze,  Gaston Micheletti,  René Verdière,  Paul-Henri Vergnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Henri Défosse,  Gustav Cloëz,  François Ruhlmann,  Selmar Meyrowitz
    CD: $55.49
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  • 4.
    Georges Thill Vol 2 - Historical Subjects
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10247 Release Date: 11/22/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck,  Luigi Cherubini,  Hector Berlioz,  Ernest Reyer  ... 
    Performer:  Georges Thill,  Germaine Cernay
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 5.
    Vina Bovy & Louis Morrisson - Recordings 1925-1948
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10036 Release Date: 11/02/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ernest Reyer,  Pietro Mascagni,  Daniel-François Auber  ... 
    Performer:  Louis Morrisson,  Bourvil,  Raoul Jobin,  Vina Bovy  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 6.
    Augustarello Affre - Recordings 1903-1910
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10001 Release Date: 10/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Alfred Bruneau,  Jacques Halévy,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Lise Landouzy,  Agustarello Affre,  Yvonne Gall,  Antoinette Laute-Brun
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 7.
    Arthur Endrèze - Recordings 1929-1937
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10078 Release Date: 10/15/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Albéric Magnard,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Endrèze,  Yvonne Gall
    Conductor:  Selmar Meyrowitz,  François Ruhlmann,  Henri Défosse,  Gustav Cloëz
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  • 8.
    1001 Nights - Breezes From The Orient / Schneidt, Guida, Ottenthal
    Label: Phoenix Edition   Catalog: 420 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ernest Reyer,  Karol Szymanowski,  Peter Cornelius,  Christoph W. Gluck  ... 
    Performer:  Gertrud von Ottenthal,  Bruno Lazzaretti,  Roberto Servile,  Georg Donderer  ... 
    Conductor:  Guido Maria Guida,  Hanns-Martin Schneidt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Berlin St. Hedwigs Cathedral Chorus
    CD: $17.99
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  • 9.
    Early French Tenors - Émile Scaramberg, Pierre Cornubert, Julien Lepestre
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 52059 Release Date: 07/12/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aimé Maillart,  Jules Massenet,  Marietti,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Julien Lepestre,  Pierre Cornubert,  Emile Scaramberg,  Georgette Brejean-Silver
    CD: $36.99
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  • 10.
    Jean-François Delmas & Emile Scaramberg
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10072 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Emile Scaramberg,  Jean-François Delmas,  Georgette Brejean-Silver
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  • 11.
    Prima Voce - Cesar Vezzani
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7926 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Jacques Halévy,  Charles Gounod,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  César Vezzani
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    The Complete César Vezzani Vol 2
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 52045 Release Date: 04/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  César Vezzani,  Mireille Berthon,  Odette Ricquier,  Rose Heilbronner  ... 
    CD: $36.99
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  • 13.
    A Survey Of European Zonophone Recordings 1901-1903
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 1281 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean-Baptiste Fauré,  Richard Wagner,  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Pol Plançon,  Giulio Rossi,  Leon Laffitte,  Rose Caron  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 14.
    The Complete César Vezzani Vol 1 - Odeon Recordings 1912-14
    Label: Marston   Catalog: 52034 Release Date: 01/01/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Ernest Reyer,  Jacques Halévy,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  César Vezzani,  Paul Payan,  Alfred Maguenat,  Eliane Peltier
    CD: $36.99
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  • 15.
    Prima Voce - Marcel Journet
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7894 Release Date: 08/25/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Arrigo Boito  ... 
    Performer:  Marcel Journet,  Pasquale Amato
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chorus
    CD: $14.99
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