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Paris (France) October 25, 1838 - Bougival (France) June 3, 1875
Born in a musician's family, Alexandre César Léopold Bizet - known as George all his life long -has had exceptional gifts for music from his childhood. His mother was a pianist, his father and uncle François Delsarte were both singing teachers.
He was admitted to Paris Academy of Music at the age of 9 and studied the piano with Marmontel, counterpoint with Gounod and composition with Halévy. He was awarded many prizes, and at the age of 18 was the laureate of a competition set up by Offenbach. He won with his operetta Docteur Miracle, which will be played alternately with the one of Charles Lecocq who was his co laureate.
In 1857, he was the laureate of the famous "Prix de Rome" thanks to the cantata Clovis et Clothilde, and will therefore stay in the villa Medicis until 1860.
In 1863, he composed Les Pêcheurs de Perles, ordered by Carvalho for the Théâtre Lyrique.
However, he had to make a living by working for the publishers "Choudens and Heugel", where he did transcriptions for the piano, thanks to his prodigious and impressive capacities as a pianist and a sight reader.
In 1866, he composed La Jolie Fille de Perth for the Théâtre Lyrique, inspired by a novel by Walter Scott.
In 1869, Bizet gets married with his former teacher's daughter, Geneviève Halévy. Even though his marriage was not a very happy one, a son, Jacques, was born in 1871.
In 1870, he put the finishing touch to Noé, Halévy's unfinished opera, and enlisted in the French army, where he witnessed the defeat of Sedan. He left with his wife to Aquitaine then came back to Paris after the Commune.
Carvalho, who was then the Théatre de Vaudeville's director, asked him to write the music for Daudet's Arlésienne (1872), but it turned out to be a complete failure. However, the suite for ochestra played by Concerts Pasdeloup was an unprecedented success.
L'Opéra Comique asked him to write Carmen after Mérimée's short story. However, this great master piece of lyric art won't be well greeted. For the critics this opera was obscene, immoral and of very bad taste, but it will become very successful later on.
Carmen is indeed the most performed opera in the world.
Bizet dies of a heart attack at the age of 37, before becoming very successful. This early death of this young talent means big loss to the world of music.