Adolphe Adam

From Wind Repertory Project
Adolphe Adam


Adolphe Adam (24 July 1803, Paris - 3 May, 1856, Paris) was a French composer and music critic.

Although his father was a pianist and piano teacher, he opposed Adolphe's strong desire to study music. When Adam was 17, his father relented, and he was permitted to study at the Paris Conservatoire -- but only after he promised that he would learn music only as an amusement, not as a career.

By age 20, he was writing songs for Paris vaudeville houses and playing in the orchestra at the Gymnasie Dramatique, where he later became chorus master. Like many other French composers, he made a living largely by playing the organ. Adam's good friendship with François Boieldieu led him to write comic opera. In 1847, he started, at his own expense, an operatic theater that produced works of young composers. The outbreak of the revolution made it necessary for the theater to close, and it took him the rest of his life to free himself from debt.

In addition to his light operas, Adam wrote grand opera, ballet, and incidental music. However, his real talent lay in the comic opera. He is best known today for the overtures If I Were King and Queen for a Day. His Christmas carol Cantique de Noël, translated to English as O Holy Night, is an international favorite, and is said to have been the first music broadcast on radio.

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