Ernest Reyer - Encyclopedia


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ERNEST REYER (1823-), French composer, was born at Marseilles on the 1st of December 1823. At the age of sixteen he went to Algeria, and remained there some years. The outcome of his residence there was a symphonic ode entitled Le Selam, the musical orientalism of which had, unluckily for him, already been anticipated by Felicien David in Le Desert. Maitre Wolfram. a one-act opera, was produced at the Opera comique XXIII. 8 in 1854; and in 1858 Sacuntala, a ballet, at the Opera. It was the production of La Statue at the Theatre lyrique in 1861 that brought Reyer's name prominently before the public. But Reyer had to wait several years before obtaining a real and permanent success. Erostrate, an opera produced at BadenBaden in 1862, and given at the Paris Opera some ten years later, was a failure. The composer had in the meanwhile set to work on Sigurd, the subject of which is the same that inspired Wagner in Siegfried and Gdtterdammerung. It was at last produced in Brussels in 1884, and subsequently brought out at the Paris Opera. Sigurd is a work of great value, displaying its composer's elevated notions as regards the form of the "lyrical drama." Salammbo, founded upon Flaubert's romance, was successfully produced at Brussels in 1890. Gluck, Weber, Berlioz and Wagner exercised most influence over Reyer. As a musical critic (preceding Berlioz in that capacity for the Journal des debats) Reyer was a well-known writer; and he became librarian of the Paris Opera, and a member of the Institute. His Quarante Ans de musique (with biographical notice by E. Henriot) was published in 1909.

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