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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet

Prolific French Composer Jules (Émile Frédéric) Massenet (May 12, 1842 – August 13, 1912)

Prolific French Composer Jules (Émile Frédéric) Massenet (May 12, 1842 – August 13, 1912)

Today is the birthday of French composer Jules (Émile Frédéric) Massenet (May 12, 1842 – August 13, 1912).  He was a prolific composer known best for his operas in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  Of his 25 operas his greatest successes were with Manon in 1884, Werther in 1892, Thaïs in 1894 and Don Quichotte (produced in Monte Carlo) in 1910.

Massenet was born in Montaud, St Étienne.  Son a piano teacher (Adélaïde Massenet), Massenet attended the Paris Conservatoire at the tender age of 11.  A few years later he won the Grand Prix de Rome, a prestigious scholarship and spent 3 years in Rome.   There he connected with prodigy pianist Franz Liszt and met his wife, Louise-Constance de Gressy.  He lived in the era other greats such as Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg and Alexander Borodin.

In his later years he returned to the Paris Conservatoire as a professor of composition.  There his taught Gustave Charpentier that went on to also win the Grand Prix de Rome.   Other notable pupils of his were Reynaldo Hahn (also Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10) and Charles Koechlin.

Jules Massenet died at the age of 70 from cancer.

In honor of his birthday may we celebrate by remembering his music…
Meditation from Thais – Violin solo with orchestra
Werther – Performed by Luciano Pavarotti

For a complete listing of his work, Wikipedia has an excellent list.  Happy Birthday Jules Massenet.  -EH  FLAG-FRANCE


  • Massenet: A Chronicle of His Life and Times
  • Wikipedia

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