Giacomo Meyerbeer

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Related to Giacomo Meyerbeer: Jakob Liebmann Beer

Meyerbeer, Giacomo

(jä`kōmō mī`yərbĕr), 1791–1864, German operatic composer. He traveled in Italy and experimented in various styles of composition, but his real success came only with his spectacular French grand operas—Robert le Diable (1831) and his masterpiece, Les Huguenots (1836), a tragic study of religious violence that was long popular with audiences. For these and two other grand operas, Le Prophète (1849) and L'Africaine (1865), ScribeScribe, Augustin Eugène
, 1791–1861, French dramatist and librettist. He began his prolific and highly successful writing career with vaudeville sketches. One of the first playwrights to mirror bourgeois morality and life, he infused 19th-century French opera and
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 was the librettist. Two opéras comiques are noteworthy, L'Étoile du nord (1854) and Dinorah (1859). He calculated the taste of his public with tremendous success and was much imitated, notably by WagnerWagner, Richard
, 1813–83, German composer, b. Leipzig. Life and Work

Wagner was reared in a theatrical family, had a classical education, and began composing at 17.
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 in Rienzi. Later Wagner condemned Meyerbeer in anti-Semitic screeds.

Meyerbeer, Giacomo


(pseudonym of Jakob Liebmann Meyer Beer). Born Sept. 5, 1791, in Tasdorf, near Berlin; died May 2, 1864, in Paris. Composer. Son of a Jewish banker.

Meyerbeer studied music under M. Clementi (piano) and C. F. Zelter and under G. J. Vogler, who directed his interest to opera. From 1816–1824, Meyerbeer lived in Italy, where he mastered the operatic style and composed several operas, the most successful of which was The Crusader (produced in 1824 in Venice and in 1825 in Paris). He was appointed general music director in Berlin in 1842.

Meyerbeer’s originality as a composer became evident in the early 1830’s. His artistic development was influenced by various schools, including the German and the Italian. He created the heroic romantic grand opera style. Even his early compositions revealed his penchant for heroic themes and images and broad conceptualization. He wrote his best works, including the opera Robert the Devil (1831, Paris), in the 1830’s and 1840’s for the Paris Opera. The libretti were by E. Scribe. In the opera The Huguenots (1836, Paris; in Russian, The Guelphs and the Ghibellines), his conception of opera was most fully and most perfectly embodied. But some of the shortcomings of his operatic style were revealed in The Prophet (1849, Paris; known in Russian as The Siege of Ghent and later, as John of Leiden), and The African Woman (1865, staged posthumously) gave evidence of the growing crisis in his creative work.

The fundamental characteristics of his operatic style are an intensely developed plot that is effective on stage, striking heroic characters, colorful crowd scenes, psychological and visual contrasts, and a desire to impart social significance to drama. The development of the whole is subordinated to a precise musical dramaturgical line, with the grand finale and the culmination of each act clearly separated. He greatly influenced 19th-century opera. Eventually, however, there was a reaction against “Meyerbeerism” and its superficiality—a reaction that, at times, detracted from authenticity and natural emotions. His comic operas The North Star (1854, Paris) and The Pardon of Ploermel (Dinorah; 1859, Paris) are considered less significant than his other operas. Meyerbeer also composed cantatas, choral and orchestral works, piano pieces, art songs, and music for the theater, including music for the drama Struensee by M. Beer, his brother.


Kremlev, IU. A. Dzhakomo Meierber. [Leningrad] 1936.
Sollertinskii, I. I. Dzhakomo Meierber, 2nd Moscow, 1962.
Khokhlovkina, A. A. Zapadnoevropeiskaia opera. Moscow, 1962. Pages 350–65.
Curzon, P. H. de. Meyerbeer. Paris [1910].
Becker, H. Der Fall Heine-Meyerbeer. Berlin, 1958.


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For information about Alois Schreiber, see Robert Ignatius Letellier, An Introduction to the Dramatic Works of Giacomo Meyerbeer (Alder-shot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2008), 224; and Michael Meyer.
Giacomo Meyerbeer to Heinrich Heine, August 29, 1839, in Giacomo Meyerbeer, Briefwechsel and Tagebucher, 8 vols.
This volume reprints 12 of Everist's articles written over the last ten years, along with two new essays, on Giacomo Meyerbeer, French music drama and Italian opera.
Contains arias by Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Emmanuel Chabrier, Gaetano Donizetti, Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Camille Saint-Saens, Ambroise Thomas, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Contains arias by Daniel Auber, Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Adrien Boieldieu, Leo Delibes, Gaetano Donizetti, Charles Gounod, Fromental Halevy, Edouard Lalo, Jules Massenet, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ernest Reyer, Gioachino Rossini, Ambroise Thomas, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Until now, students of Giacomo Meyerbeer and his music have relied on the four-volume Briefweschsel und Tagebucher edited by Heinz Becker and Gudrun Becker (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1960-85) for primary source materials.
Haine laments that despite the presence of many letters by famous composers, published editions of complete correspondence, including those of Hector Berlioz, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Johannes Brahms, and Anton Bruckner, fail to reference sources at Mariemont.
The theme of duality is pursued further in Lucinde Lauer's investigation of Tchaikovsky's use of the French Operacomique ballade in Pique Dame, in which she reaches the intriguing conclusion that, while for Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber and Giacomo Meyerbeer this genre functions to present a mystery that is eventually explicated, for Tchaikovsky the ballade remains two-pronged, a musical manifestation of dilemma.
Though Heise studied with Moritz Hauptmann for a very short period from 1852 to 1853 in Leipzig - where he was most impressed by Robert Schumann of all the German romantic composers, he became interested in Giacomo Meyerbeer (whose influence can be found in his operas), yet remained cool to Richard Wagner's music and art.
Composers and Compositions" includes discussions of Salomon Rossi and his contemporaries, nineteenth-century composers Giacomo Meyerbeer, Jacques Halevy, and Jacques Offenbach, and twentieth-century century emigre composers Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ernest Toch, Erich Zeisl, Stefan Wolpe, Kurt Weill, Leonard Bernstein, and, of course, Arnold Schoenberg, among others.
Auber, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Hector Berlioz, and Giuseppi Verdi, the last of whom adored her voice and artistry.
There is indeed much in Wesley's style that parallels the advances in chromatic harmony and tonality to be found in the works of Carl Maria von Weber, Spohr, and Giacomo Meyerbeer at or before this date.