Giacomo Meyerbeer

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Related to Giacomo Meyerbeer: Jakob Liebmann Beer

Meyerbeer, Giacomo

Meyerbeer, Giacomo (jäˈkōmō mīˈyərbĕr), 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), Scribe 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 Wagner in Rienzi. Later Wagner condemned Meyerbeer in anti-Semitic screeds.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Giacomo Meyerbeer to Heinrich Heine, August 29, 1839, in Giacomo Meyerbeer, Briefwechsel and Tagebucher, 8 vols.
They are more likely to stress the loneliness of leadership, especially when seen through the eyes of ship's captains such as Vasco da Gama in Giacomo Meyerbeer's L'Africaine or Captain, the Honourable Edward Fairfax Vere in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd.
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.
Meyerbeer Studies: A Series of Lectures, Essays, and Articles on the Life and Work of Giacomo Meyerbeer. By Robert Ignatius Letellier.
Meyerbeer studies; a series of lectures, essays, and articles on the life and work of Giacomo Meyerbeer.
This topic, briefly mentioned but clearly stated by Kolb, is further investigated in Kerry Murphy's article "Berlioz and Meyerbeer, and the Place of Jewishness in Criticism." After a description of anti-Semitic viewpoints by the Paris critics of the 1830's and 1840's--for instance, in promoting the stereotypes of Jewish composers "lacking originality" or the application of the metaphoric juif errant to Giacomo Meyerbeer's multicultural personality--Murphy describes in depth Berlioz's reviews of Meyerbeer's works and his friendship with the leading composer of French opera.
Contains arias by Daniel Auber, Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Leo Delibes, Charles Gounod, Edouard Lalo, Jules Massenet, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Jacques Offenbach, Gioachino Rossini, Ambroise Thomas, and Giuseppe Verdi.
Weber's widow approached several other composers, notably Giacomo Meyerbeer, hoping to interest one of them in realizing a performable score from Weber's sketches, but all these tentative efforts were unsuccessful.
Giacomo Meyerbeer, however, was one of the few (like Otto Nicolai) who was intoxicated by Italian music and entertained dreams of making a successful career as a composer of Italian opera.
These composers, Lacombe argues, together guided French opera away from the "effect[s] and overwrought dramatics" of Giacomo Meyerbeer (p.
If there is room for Giacomo Meyerbeer in such a volume, why not Giuseppe Verdi, whose collected edition resides at the University of Chicago in collaboration with Ricordi?
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.