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Fromenthal Halevy: His Life and Music, 1799-1862by Ruth Jordan
Synopses & Reviews
"Jordan paints a rich portrait of Halevy at the height of his powers in the mid-1850s. A prolific output included at least one new opera a year, occasionally three...he was renowned as a productive public speaker, author of learned papers...a supporter of young artists, much loved professor of composition to Saint-Saens, Gounod and Bizet, a husband and father of two daughters."
Book News Annotation:
An interestingly written biography of the French-Jewish romantic composer whose 30 operas have gone the way of so many period pieces, wildly popular during their time they have become neglected cousins to the classical glitterati among whom Halevy's students Bizet and Saint Saens are counted. The late Jordan (BBC World News music producer, writer, and also biographer) finely sketches the life and times of the artist whose work La Juive is considered preeminent in 19th century composition. But perhaps most interesting is her portrayal of the tempestuous historical period of Halevy's life, spanning the fall of Napoleon, the rise and decline of constitutional monarchy, and the establishment of the Second Empire.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Fromental Halevy, best known for his opera La Juive, captured the romantic and contentious spirit of his time. His was one of the most eventful eras in French history, ranging from the fall of Napoleon to the establishment of the Second Empire, and he took part in what was happening around him, often reflecting it in his music. As a composer, Halevy regarded opera as a magic spectacle fusing drama, music, dance and art. His work - innovative, demanding, captivating - included more than 30 grand operas and operas comiques, almost all widely performed and many immensely popular throughout nineteenth century Europe and the United States. And, loyal to his Jewish faith, Halevy set to music several psalms for liturgical use in French synagogues. Wagner, for all his virulent anti-Semitism, hailed "Halevy's brilliant energy that has sped French grand opera along a new road". This book, our century's first full-length biography of Halevy, which includes previously unpublished excerpts from his diaries and correspondence, illuminates that road.
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