(Clément Philibert) Léo Delibes

French Born 21 Feb 1836 Died 16 Jan 1891

Delibes was born in France in 1836, and studied at the Paris Conservatory of Music.  Although he acheived no real distinction while there, he began to develop his style, and after graduating became famous as a master of ballet with his second work, Coppelia (1870).

It was not long until Delibes began composing opera and operetta.  Le Roi l'a dit (1873) was his first opera, performed at the Opera-Comique.  Jean di Nivelle (1880) and Lakme (1883) brought Delibes to the forefront of French stage composers.  Lakme was tremendously popular at the time, for the Far Eastern romance and mystery in its tale of love between a British officer and the daughter of an Indian priest.  Two of its songs, the Flower Duet and the Bell Song, are particularly well known today.  After his opera period, Delibes wrote a lot of religious music, including Les Filles de Cadiz.

Delibes was appointed professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory in 1881, and in 1884 was made a member of the Institut de France.  His final opera Kassya was finished by Massenet after Delibes' death in 1891.  His music is still frequently heard, attractive for its vivid melody and rich orchestration which highlights the voice beautifully.

- MIDI FILE - from "Lakme": Flower Duet (1'08'')

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