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Thread: Leo Delibes

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    Default Leo Delibes




    Léo Delibes was the first notable composer of ballet to emerge after the death of Rameau, the art of ballet composition having suffered a period of neglect in the interim. Delibes was the first to craft a full-length ballet score with the care and distinction already common among the best opera composers; not only could he produce buoyant, memorable tunes, but he delivered them in sparkling orchestrations. He also wrote several operas, of which Lakmé -- which generated one popular aria (the "Bell Song") and a now-ubiquitous duet -- is the best known.

    Delibes studied at the Paris Conservatory under Adolphe Adam. In 1853, he became accompanist at the Théâtre-Lyrique, moving to the same position at the prestigious Paris Opéra ten years later. His great success as a composer of music for the theater in the 1870s and early 1880s gained him a professorship in composition at the conservatory in 1881, and membership in the French Institute in 1884.

    The French did not place much value on instrumental music during Delibes' youth, so the emerging composer concentrated on light-hearted operettas and farces in the manner of Offenbach. His first opportunity to work on a large ballet score came in 1866, when he collaborated with Ludwig Minkus on La Source. The success of this ballet led eventually to commissions for the two works that would again raise ballet music to its highest level: Coppélia (1870), based on a story of E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Sylvia (1876), based on a mythological theme. The former is still produced regularly; both light, graceful works generated concert suites that, although not as common in the concert hall as they might be, have been frequently recorded.

    Meanwhile, Delibes honed his skill as an opera composer. Most notable are his opéra comique Le Roi l'a dit (1873) and his more serious, exotic Lakmé (1883). Delibes's church music (he once worked as an organist) has fallen by the wayside, as have most of his colorful songs, with the exception of Les Filles de Cadiz, which exudes the same Franco-Spanish air as Bizet's Carmen.

    His most important work, clearly, was for the stage, particularly those two 90-minute ballet scores. Their significance, beyond their own merits, is the direct influence they had on Tchaikovsky, whose mastery of the symphonic ballet owes everything to Coppélia and Sylvia.

    [Article taken from All Music Guide]


    What do you all think of this remarkable composer? Though he didn't compose much, his ballets are musically rich with ideas and project a great optimism.

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    Senior Member Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Default Surface thoughts on Delibes...

    It seems that Coppélia is less frequently performed that Adam's Giselle... and I can find no reason why that should be so. The ballet music from Coppélia is, I think, the only music of its kind to deserve mention in the same breath as the world-famous ballet tunes from Tchaikovsky.

    (You'd have to know a little Opera to be aware of this...) Another manner in which Delibes' music has circumnavigated the globe is via the famous "Bell Song" soprano aria from Lakmé. In an earlier time, it was considered the ultimate coloratura showpiece.

    Sylvia has the reputation of being the poorer cousin to Coppélia- but there are some notable extracts to be found in that score, as well. The "March & Procession of Bacchus" from that work has found some life in workings as a wind-band tour de force.
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chi_town/Philly View Post
    It seems that Coppélia is less frequently performed that Adam's Giselle... and I can find no reason why that should be so. The ballet music from Coppélia is, I think, the only music of its kind to deserve mention in the same breath as the world-famous ballet tunes from Tchaikovsky.

    (You'd have to know a little Opera to be aware of this...) Another manner in which Delibes' music has circumnavigated the globe is via the famous "Bell Song" soprano aria from Lakmé. In an earlier time, it was considered the ultimate coloratura showpiece.

    Sylvia has the reputation of being the poorer cousin to Coppélia- but there are some notable extracts to be found in that score, as well. The "March & Procession of Bacchus" from that work has found some life in workings as a wind-band tour de force.
    This is interesting it seems that his music is becoming less and less performed in concert halls and this is a shame, because his music is just fantastic. Delibes was also an influence on Debussy as well, which there was a movement from one of his ballets I believe it was "Sylvia" where it sounds like Debussy...no kidding. Perhaps Delibes was much more radical than we give him credit for.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I can only admit I am familiar with snippets from Lakme.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    I can only admit I am familiar with snippets from Lakme.
    Hey Tapkaara I know you're a big Sibelius and Japanese composer fan, but how often to get away from Sibelius and listen to other composers?

    As much as I love Ravel, Debussy, Bruckner, and Mahler I don't listen to them a whole lot, because I've already heard basically everything there is to hear or at least that I want to hear of them. I still return to my favorite composers, but I enjoy diving into unknown territory like putting on some Zemlinsky, Hovhaness, Bruch, Grainger, etc.

    I mean there's so much to explore.

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    Senior Member andruini's Avatar
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    Thank you for recognizing this great composer! I've always loved Delibes' music, ever since seeing one of my cousins perform in Coppélia when I was just a little boy.. I've loved that ballet since.. And while I agree Sylvia is poorer in comparison, I really love that ballet's suite. I haven't heard Lakmé, but it's on my to-do list.

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    Senior Member confuoco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chi_town/Philly View Post
    It seems that CoppéliaThe ballet music from Coppélia is, I think, the only music of its kind to deserve mention in the same breath as the world-famous ballet tunes from Tchaikovsky.
    I fully agree. Hovewer, I heard also Sylvia and I enjoyed it. As big fun of French music, I would like to be more familiar with Lakmé. Now I know only famous Flower Duet (which is, as I have noticed, very attractive and interesting piece of music also for non-classical listeners nowadays) and virtuosic Bell Song from Lakmé.

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    Gotta love the Pizzicato from Sylvia:

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    Default For Mr.delibes Birthdaty


    Léo Delibes, in full Clément-Philibert-Léo Delibes, (born February 21, 1836, Saint-Germain-du-Val, France—died January 16, 1891, Paris), French opera and ballet composer who was the first to write music of high quality for the ballet.

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