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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 / Krasteva, Antonenko, Märzendorfer, Et Al
Release Date: 10/18/2005   Label: Euroarts  
Catalog: 2054528   Number of Discs: 1
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Bizet: Carmen / Kaufmann, Kasarova, Welser-Most
Release Date: 10/27/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002188409   Number of Discs: 1
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Bizet: L'Arlesienne Suites, Faure, Gounod / Yamada, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Release Date: 11/19/2013   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186358   Number of Discs: 1
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Bizet: Carmen / Welser-most, Kaufmann, Kasarova, Rey [blu-ray]
Release Date: 10/27/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002188559   Number of Discs: 1
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Bizet: Carmen (Highlights)
Release Date: 01/28/1994   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550727   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Carmen: Flower Song

Browse 251-258 of 258 Available Recordings
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  • 251.
    Bizet: Carmen Highlights / Karajan, Price, Et Al
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60190 Release Date: 06/26/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Leontyne Price,  Mirella Freni,  Monique Linval  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 252.
    Opera Without Words - Arias For Orchestra
    Label: Cbs Masterworks   Catalog: 44999 Release Date: 11/20/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Giacomo Puccini,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Conductor:  Andre Kostelanetz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Andre Kostelanetz Orchestra,  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 253.
    Bizet: Carmen - Highlights / Ozawa, Norman, Freni, Shicoff
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 426040 Release Date: 08/07/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Neil Shicoff,  Jessye Norman,  Mirella Freni,  Jean Rigby  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  French National Radio Chorus
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  • 254.
    Tutto Pavarotti
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425681 Release Date: 04/28/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Umberto Giordano,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Luciano Pavarotti,  Julia Varády,  Ida Bormida,  Robert Lloyd  ... 
    Conductor:  István Kertész,  Zubin Mehta,  Herbert von Karajan,  Oliviero de Fabritiis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 255.
    The Caruso Edition, Volume Ii 1908-1912
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 2 Release Date: 01/21/1993   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Arturo Buzzi-Peccia,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Emanuele Nutile  ... 
    Performer:  Enrico Caruso,  Louise Homer,  Johanna Gadski,  Frances Alda  ... 
    Conductor:  Walter B. Rogers
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  • 256.
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 9327 Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Francesco Paolo Tosti,  Edvard Grieg,  Eugène d' Albert  ... 
    Performer:  Benno Ziegler,  Richard Tauber,  Vera Schwarz
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