Born on October 25, 1838 in Paris to a family of musicians, Georges Bizet studied piano at an early age and was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at 10, where he studied with Halévy. His brilliant studies culminated in 1857 when he won the Prix de Rome.
The same year, his first stage work, the one-act operetta Le Docteur miracle performed at the Bouffes Parisiens and was awarded a prize by Offenbach, shared with Lecocq. During the next three years that he spent in Rome, he composed an opera buffa, Don Procopio.
But his first operas, Les Pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers, 1863) and La Jolie Fille de Perth (The Fair Maid of Perth, 1866) were not successful. Djamileh composed to Musset and performed in 1872 at the Opéra Comique, or his incidental music composed for Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne and staged in October 1st at the Vaudeville, were both failures. However, an orchestral suite derived from L’Arlésienne and performed at the Concerts Pasdeloup in December, was instantly popular.
Encouraged by this success, Bizet began composing Carmen, interrupted by the writing of a grand opera based on Corneille, Don Rodrigue, which remained unfinished after the fire that burned the opera house where it was to be performed. Sadly, the premiere of Carmen was another failure that hastened his end.
He died on June 3, 1875 in Bougival, at only 37 years old.
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