Ambroise Thomas Musician

© Palazzetto Bru Zane fonds Leduc - Bru Zane Mediabase


Born in Metz, France, into a family of musicians, Ambroise Thomas started music with his parents. His promising beginnings were however overshadowed by the sudden death of his father in 1823. In 1828, he entered the Paris Conservatoire and studied with Zimmerman (piano), Dourlen (harmony) and Le Sueur (composition). 

In 1832, he won the Prix de Rome. Although he composed a few pieces of Chamber Music during his time at the Villa Medicis, he chose to work in the opera field from 1837. After a first and well received try (La Double Échelle), his career took off with Le Caïd, Le Songe d'une nuit d'été, Raymond and Le Roman d'Elvire. 

His works Mignon (1866) and Hamlet (1868) truly brought him fame, marking his career peak, though he had to slow down his creative activity in favour of administrative obligations, notably at the Conservatoire, where he was successively professor of composition (1856) then director (1871). Despite their musical qualities, his last pieces, such as Françoise de Rimini (1882) and the ballet La Tempête (1889), did not match his past successes. 

A typical example of an Academic composer, elected to the Institute in 1851, Thomas managed to forge himself a solid work combining his fine talent as a melodist and as an orchestrator. Anxious to meet the public’s expectations while preserving the French heritage against German influences, he inspired many of his pupils, including Massenet and Dubois.

Source : Bru Zane Mediabase

Immerse in the Paris Opera universe

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