Georges Bizet

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Bizet, Georges

(zhôrzh bēzā`), 1838–75, French operatic composer. The son of professional musicians, he entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of nine and won the Prix de Rome in 1857. He was a gifted pianist and composed instrumental music in his teens. Bizet is celebrated for his opera Carmen (1875), based on a story by Mérimée. One of the most popular operas ever written, Carmen has music that is lush, melodic, and brilliantly orchestrated. It unfolds a story of love, hate, jealousy, and murder, set in the exotic world of Spanish Gypsies and bullfighters. Bizet's other works include the operas The Pearlfishers (1863), The Fair Maid of Perth (1867), and Djamileh (1872); Symphony in C Major (1855); and incidental music to Daudet's L'Arlésienne, in the form of two orchestral suites.


See biographies by W. Dean (1950) and M. Curtiss (1958, repr. 1974).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bizet, Georges


(Alexandre César Léopold; baptized Georges). Born Oct. 25, 1838, in Paris; died June 3, 1875, in Bougival, near Paris. French composer.

Bizet was the son of a voice teacher. At the age of ten he was accepted at the Paris Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1857. He was a student of A. F. Marmontel, P. Zimmermann, and J. F. E. Halévy; he also studied under C. Gounod. At the conservatory Bizet won several prizes (for playing the piano and organ, as well as for composition). In 1857 he was awarded the Grand Prix de Rome (for the cantata Clovis et Clotilde), which gave him the opportunity to spend three years in Italy. Beginning in 1860 he lived in Paris. Because of difficult financial circumstances he gave private lessons, made transcriptions, and edited the works of other composers.

A born playwright, Bizet was constantly attracted to the musical theater; he wrote approximately 20 operas (many of which were left unfinished), including Don Procopio (1858–59; produced in 1906) and Ivan le Terrible (1865, unfinished; produced in 1946); three operettas (Le Docteur Miracle was awarded the prize at a competition organized by J. Offenbach in 1857); and music for a dramatic performance. Bizet was attracted by plots with elements of psychological drama and sharp conflicts. His early operas—Les Pécheurs de perles (1863), La Jolie Filie de Perth (1866, based on a novel by Walter Scott; produced in 1867 at the Théátre-Lyrique, Paris)—developed the traditions of French lyric opera. The composer’s striving for a folklike, true-life quality had already appeared in these works, which were distinguished by a melodic richness and beauty of orchestral colors characteristic of Bizet and by an exposition of the vocal roles suitable for singing. Realistic tendencies were more clearly manifested in the one-act opera Djamileh (based on A. Musset’s narrative poem Namouna, 1871; produced in 1872 at the Opé ra-Comique, Paris) and the music to A. Daudet’s drama L’Arlésienne (1872). The two suites from L’Arlésienne (the first put together by Bizet himself in 1872, and the second by Bizet’s friend, E. Guiraud, in 1885) made a brilliant contribution to the world’s symphonic literature.

Bizet’s most outstanding work was the opera Carmen (based on a short story by P. Mérimée, 1874), one of the high points of operatic realism during the 19th century. The music of this opera is outstanding for its great dramatic force, melodic expressiveness, brilliant harmony, plasticity of forms, and richness and clarity of orchestration. Written in the traditions of the French opéra-comique, Carmen contained spoken dialogues. Later, for a production in Vienna (in the autumn of 1875, after Bizet’s death), the composer E. Guiraud wrote recitatives that replaced the conversational episodes. At its first performance (1875, at the Opéra-Comique in Paris) Carmen was not well received by the bourgeois public; but soon after its success in Vienna, Carmen became “the most popular opera in the world,” as P. I. Tchaikovsky had predicted.

Bizet also composed orchestral works, including the symphonic cantata Vasco da Gama (1859–60), the symphony Roma (1871; the first version was a fantasy, Reminiscences of Rome, 1860–68), pieces for the piano, romances, and songs.


Pis’ma. Translated from French and edited by G. T. Filenko. Moscow, 1963.


Bruk, M. Bize. Moscow, 1938.
Khokhlovkina, A. Zhorzh Bize. Moscow, 1959.
Curtiss, M. Bizet et son temps. Geneva-Paris, 1961.
Robert, F. Georges Bizet: L’Homme et son oeuvre.[Paris, 1965.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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An opposite view was put forward in one of two recent French biographies of the composer, by Remy Strieker (Georges Bizet, 1838-1873 [Paris: Gallimard, 1999]), whose preface constantly reminds us of Carmen.
Georges Bizet -- Carmen's aria from the opera 'Carmen' -- performed by Vesselina Kasarova
The second batch of this series highlights the phenomenal realisation of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique and La Damnation de Faust, Georges Bizet's Carmen and Scott Joplin's Treemonisha.
Intermezzo aus L'Arlesienne by Georges Bizet, arranged for 8-9 horns by Peter Damm.
Georges Bizet's Symphony in C, once lost in the Paris Conservatoire library, found form in the SCO.
Some of the operas and musicals that will be performed include Georges Bizet's Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus among others.
The first half of the concert was devoted to works from Carmen by Georges Bizet, leading off with the orchestra showing their prowess with the prelude which set the tone for the evening.
Georges Bizet's work is being adapted for BBC3 and will be televised live from Bradford's City Park on 9 June, BBC reported.
PAXTON - Georges Bizet's 1875 opera-comique, "Carmen," came to the Worcester area for a four-performance run Friday, courtesy of Greater Worcester Opera.
Famous artists that performed during the first season included Arab superstar Magda Al Roumi, prominent cellist Yo Yo Ma, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and American Ballet Theater, producing "Don Quixote." If you are a fan of opera or ballet, keep an open eye for performers like Teatro Alla Scala Ballet Company performing "Giselle," Georges Bizet directing "Carmen," and Mariinsky Ballet performing "Swan Lake," among others, who will be coming to the Royal Opera House Muscat very soon.
Born Moishe Miller and also known as Morris Miller and Robert Merrill, the Brooklyn-born Metropolitan Opera star brought the same husky stridence to the anthem that he brought to Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata and Georges Bizet's Carmen, while the movie screen showed a bugler playing taps at twilight, soldiers charging into a perilous fight, and bombs bursting in air.
The production of Georges Bizet's classic gives cinemagoers the best seat in the house, immersing them as never before among the sights, sounds and sentiment of 19th century Seville.