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Edouard Lalo

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Édouard Lalo

Biography

Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo (27 January 1823, Lille, France – 22 April 1892, Paris) was a French composer.

Lalo attended the Lille conservatoire in his youth. Beginning at age 16, he studied at the Paris Conservatoire under François Antoine Habeneck. Habeneck conducted student concerts at the Conservatoire from 1806 and became the founding conductor of the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in 1828.

For several years, Lalo worked as a string player and teacher in Paris. In 1848, he joined with friends to found the Armingaud Quartet, in which he played the viola and later, second violin. His earliest surviving compositions are songs and chamber works (two early symphonies were destroyed).

In 1865, Lalo married Julie Besnier de Maligny, a contralto from Brittany. She encouraged Lalo's early interest in opera and led him to compose works for the stage, most notably the opera Le Roi d'Ys. These works were never really popular, despite their originality, and incurred criticism for being too progressive and Wagnerian. This led Lalo to dedicate most of his career to the composition of chamber music, which was gradually coming into vogue in France, as well as works for orchestra.

Lalo's distinctive style has earned him a degree of popularity. The Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra still enjoys a prominent place in the repertoire of violinists, while the Cello Concerto in D minor is occasionally revived. His music is notable for its strong melodies and colourful orchestration, with a Germanic solidity that distinguishes him from other French composers of his era.

Lalo became a member of the Legion of Honour in 1873.


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