For the fashion entrepreneur, see Natalie Massenet. French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty. While les Troyens: Lyric Poem in 5 Acts : Vocal Score PDF a schoolboy, Massenet was admitted to France’s principal music college, the Paris Conservatoire.
There he studied under Ambroise Thomas, whom he greatly admired. Like many prominent French composers of the period, Massenet became a professor at the Conservatoire. He taught composition there from 1878 until 1896, when he resigned after the death of the director, Ambroise Thomas. By the time of his death, Massenet was regarded by many critics as old-fashioned and unadventurous although his two best-known operas remained popular in France and abroad.
After a few decades of neglect, his works began to be favourably reassessed during the mid-20th century, and many of them have since been staged and recorded. Massenet’s birthplace in Montaud, photographed c. Massenet was born at Montaud, then an outlying hamlet and now a part of the city of Saint-Étienne, in the Loire. At the Conservatoire Massenet studied solfège with Augustin Savard and the piano with François Laurent. He pursued his studies, with modest distinction, until the beginning of 1855, when family concerns disrupted his education.
In 1861 Massenet’s music was published for the first time, the Grande Fantasie de Concert sur le Pardon de Ploërmel de Meyerbeer , a virtuoso piano work in nine sections. Ambroise Thomas, my beloved master, came towards me and said, « Embrace Berlioz, you owe him a great deal for your prize. The prize, » I cried, bewildered, my face shining with joy. I was deeply moved and I embraced Berlioz, then my master, and finally Monsieur Auber. Then he said to Berlioz pointing to me, « He’ll go far, the young rascal, when he’s had less experience! The prize brought a well-subsidised three-year period of study, two-thirds of which was spent at the French Academy in Rome, based at the Villa Medici.
Massenet returned to Paris in 1866. He made a living by teaching the piano and publishing songs, piano pieces and orchestral suites, all in the popular style of the day. Prix de Rome winners were sometimes invited by the Opéra-Comique in Paris to compose a work for performance there. 71, during which he served as a volunteer in the National Guard alongside his friend Bizet. This period was an early high point in Massenet’s career. He had been made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1876, and in 1878 he was appointed professor of counterpoint, fugue and composition at the Conservatoire under Thomas, who was now the director.
Massenet was a popular and respected teacher at the Conservatoire. Massenet’s growing reputation did not prevent a contretemps with the Paris Opéra in 1879. Auguste Vaucorbeil, director of the Opéra, refused to stage the composer’s new piece, Hérodiade, judging the libretto either improper or inadequate. Sanderson’s sugar-candy notes » baked in « the National Musical Oven ». Caricature from La Silhouette, March 1894. Manon, first given at the Opéra-Comique in January 1884, was a prodigious success and was followed by productions at major opera houses in Europe and the United States. Together with Gounod’s Faust and Bizet’s Carmen it became, and has remained, one of the cornerstones of the French operatic repertoire.
Though in the view of some writers Werther is the composer’s masterpiece, it was not immediately taken up with the same keenness as Manon. Like Werther, it did not gain widespread popularity among French opera-goers until its first revival, which was four years after the premiere, by when the composer’s association with Sanderson was over. The death of Ambroise Thomas in February 1896 made vacant the post of director of the Conservatoire. The French government announced on 6 May that Massenet had been offered the position and had refused it. With Grisélidis and Cendrillon complete, though still awaiting performance, Massenet began work on Sapho, based on a novel by Daudet about the love of an innocent young man from the country for a worldly-wise Parisienne. Macdonald comments that at the start of the 20th century Massenet was in the enviable position of having his works included in every season of the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique, and in opera houses around the world. From 1900 to his death he led a life of steady work and, generally, success.
According to his memoirs, he declined a second offer of the directorship of the Conservatoire in 1905. A rare excursion from the opera house came in 1903 with Massenet’s only piano concerto, on which he had begun work while still a student. The work was performed by Louis Diémer at the Conservatoire, but made little impression compared with his operas. In August 1912 Massenet went to Paris from his house at Égreville to see his doctor. The composer had been suffering from abdominal cancer for some months, but his symptoms did not seem imminently life-threatening. Within a few days his condition deteriorated sharply. His wife and family hastened to Paris, and were with him when he died, aged seventy.
By his own wish his funeral, with no music, was held privately at Égreville, where he is buried in the churchyard. From Hérodiade, performed by Charles W. In the view of his biographer Hugh Macdonald, Massenet’s main influences were Gounod and Thomas, with Meyerbeer and Berlioz also important to his style. From beyond France he absorbed some traits from Verdi, and possibly Mascagni, and above all Wagner. Massenet’s Parisian audiences were greatly attracted by the exotic in music, and Massenet willingly obliged, with musical evocations of far-flung places or times long past. Macdonald lists a great number of locales depicted in the operas, from ancient Egypt, mythical Greece and biblical Galilee to Renaissance Spain, India and Revolutionary Paris. Massenet wrote more than thirty operas.