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On This Day… October 25

Today we look at a French pianist and composer, who is most famous for his opera Carmen. Georges Bizet, born on this day in 1838.

Georges Bizet entered the Paris Conservatory a few weeks before his tenth birthday. He wrote his first symphony, Symphony in C, in November 1855, while only 16, evidently as a student assignment. It was completely forgotten, and only rediscovered in 1933, and given its first performance in 1935, where it was hailed as a junior masterwork. Bizet won the Prix de Rome, requiring him to study in Rome for three years, where he developed writing Opera buffa operas such as Don Procopio. He wrote his Te Deum for entry into the Prix Rodrigues competition, but it failed to win and remained unpublished until 1971.

Though not popular at the first performances, Carmen would go on to become Bizet’s most popular work. Praise came from contemporaries such as Debussy, Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, who went to see 20 performances of the opera. However, Bizet did not live to see this success, with a heart attack taking his life prematurely at the age of 36.

Today we have Angela Gheorgiu performing the Habanera from Carmen, Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin philharmonic performing Farandole from L’arlesienne, and Gil Shaham performing Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.

Whats your favourite piece? What performances have you seen? Let me know in the comments below, or write your own blog post linking back here, and I’ll add a link below.

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