Monday, January 28, 2013
Happy 222 Birthday, Ferdinand Hérold!
Today is the 222nd birthday of French composer LOUIS JOSEPH FERDINAND HEROLD (1791-1833).
Born in Paris to an accomplished pianist, Ferdinand Herold did not begin his musical career until after his father's death, as Francois Joseph Herold did not want his son to have a musical career. But Ferdinand persevered, and following his father's death, he enrolled in the Paris conservatoire, and embarked on a musical career that included performing and composing music in a variety of genres.
In 1812 he won a scholarship awarded by the French government, and traveled to Italy where he remained until 1815 and produced a symphony, a cantata and several pieces of chamber music.
After returning to Paris he composed several operas and a vast quantity of pianoforte music of a more or less ephemeral nature. He did not have a stellar career, and his works met with mild success. If you have not heard his name, it is because he is not considered to have a place in the pantheon of classical composers.
But two of his pieces have been justly immortalized, and continue to be played to this very day:
1) The romantic opera Zampa which was a resounding success, with its overture that is masterpiece, and
2) The opera Le Pre aux Clercs, in every way a representative work of the French school, in which French esprit and French chivalry find their embodiment.
As you listen to the Zampa Overture, performed here by Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch and the NHK Symphony Orchestra, you cannot miss the charming liveliness and true dramatic spirit - emphasized by contrasting the spirited opening to the melacholy lament later in the piece - and the zesty, rousing finale: