A One and A Two

Here is a song written by Leo Delibes (1836-1891) entitled Pizzicato Polka, from the ballet Sylvia. It is number 80 in the list of 100 songs in the Big Book of Classical Music.

Clément Philibert Léo Delibes (February 21, 1836 – January 16, 1891) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his ballets and operas. His works include the ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) and the opera Lakmé (1883), which includes the well-known “Flower Duet“.

Born into a musical family, Delibes enrolled at France’s foremost music academy, the Conservatoire de Paris, when he was twelve, studying under several professors including Adolphe Adam. After composing light comic opérettes in the 1850s and 1860s, while also serving as a church organist, Delibes achieved public recognition for his music for the ballet La Source in 1866. His later ballets Coppélia and Sylvia were key works in the development of modern ballet, giving the music much greater importance than previously. He composed a small number of mélodies, some of which are still performed frequently.

Delibes had several attempts at writing more serious operas, and achieved a considerable critical and commercial success in 1883 with Lakmé. In his later years he joined the faculty of the Conservatoire, teaching composition. He died at his home in Paris at the age of 54. Coppélia and Sylvia remain core works in the international ballet repertoire, and Lakmé is revived from time to time in opera houses.

Middle aged white man with short, dark hair and a bushy beard
Leo Delibes in 1875

And here is number 81, a selection from Habanera, by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), from the Opera Carmen:

Piano
Brass

Georges Bizet (25 October 1838 – 3 June 1875), né Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the Romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertoire.

During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public. Returning to Paris after almost three years in Italy, he found that the main Parisian opera theatres preferred the established classical repertoire to the works of newcomers. His keyboard and orchestral compositions were likewise largely ignored; as a result, his career stalled, and he earned his living mainly by arranging and transcribing the music of others. Restless for success, he began many theatrical projects during the 1860s, most of which were abandoned. Neither of his two operas that reached the stage in this time—Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth—were immediately successful.
George Bizet had serious health issues (it seems like many of these composers had troubled lives). His very interesting life story can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Bizet

George Bizet in 1875
(The Same Year Leo Got His Picture Taken!)

Don’t forget to clap!

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