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Ferdinand Hérold

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Ferdinand Hérold


Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold (28 January 1791, Paris - 19 January 1833, Paris) was a highly talented French composer and pianist whose father, François Joseph, studied piano with Emmanuel Bach.

Ferdinand Hérold was educated at the Institution Hix, where he studied piano with his godfather, Louis Adam, and solfege with Francois-Joseph Fétis. Upon entering the Paris Conservatory in 1806, he continued piano lessons with Louis Adam and also studied harmony with Charles-Simon Catel, violin with Rodolphe Kreutzer, and composition with Etienne-Nicolas Mdhul. After obtaining the first piano prize in 1810 and the Prix de Rome for his cantata Mille. de Ia Valliére two years later, Hérold journeyed to the Italian capital. Finding the climate in Rome unsuitable to his health, he moved on to Naples, where he composed a variety of short works, taught the daughters of the Neapolitan king, Joachim Murat, and served as pianist to Queen Marie Caroline, the sister of Napoleon. He enjoyed his three years in Naples and, after seeing his first opera there, was inspired to compose La jeunesse de Henri V (1815), the first of 22 operas. Afterward he visited Rome and Vienna before returning to Paris.

Hérold’s ambition to succeed as a composer motivated him to gain experience in several less-than-inspiring tasks, including piano accompanist at the Opéra Italien in Paris (1820-1827), a trip to Italy to engage singers (1821), vocal coaching at the Académie de Musique (1827), and, on occasion, working with inferior opera librettists. In 1827, Herold married Adele Elise Rollet.

Hérold’s style was graceful, polished, and occasionally even moving. He died just as he felt that he was beginning to understand the requirements of the stage. During his short lifetime, he composed 22 grand and comic operas, including Marie (1826), Zampa (1831), and Le pré aux clercs— The Dueling Ground (1832); numerous piano pieces (59 published); ballets, including La Belle au bois dormant; orchestra works; vocal pieces; and chamber music. Band transcriptions include Clog Dance, Flute Dance from La Fille mal gardée, Ludovic Overture, La Pré aux Clercs, Zampa Overture and Zampa Selections.

Unfortunately, the tuberculosis inherited from his father ended his life at the age of 41.

Works for Winds


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 282