Edouard Lalo

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Edouard Lalo

Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo (Lille, January 27, 1823-Paris, April 22, 1892), known as Édouard Lalo , was a violinist and French composer. The sources disagree on their Spanish ancestry since there is proof of the surname of the mother: Wacquez, but it is certainly not known if it corresponds to the Spanish Vázquez or not.

Dedicated for a long time to a dark work, he met the success with Symphonie espagnole, for violin and orchestra (1873), Concerto pour violoncelle (1876) and Rhapsodie norvégienne (1879), among other works. In the first two there is a brilliant appreciation of virtuosity, surpassed by the quality of his Symphonie in “sol” mineur (1887).

Influenced by Richard Wagner in his opera The King of Ys , he had a deep knowledge of the orchestra and excelled in chamber music (Quatuor à cordes, 1854, three trios) and in the Lied, influenced by Schumann, but endowed with a typically French colorism. He also composed three operas (Fiesque, finished by Coquard) and a ballet, Namouna (1882).

“I am of Alfred de Musset’s opinion: Mon verre est petit, mais je bois dans mon verre”

Edouard Lalo’s Biography

He was born in Lille on January 27, 1823. From his childhood he showed an excellent disposition for music and studied violin and cello at the conservatory of his native city. His father, who was a military man, wanted his son to continue with the profession and he did not accept music as a professional possibility. However, at age 16 he managed to go to Paris to study music against his father’s will. Also in Paris he established friendship with Eugène Delacroix. In the conservatory of the French capital he had Habeneck as violin teacher, instrument of which he became a great virtuoso. Also thanks to him, Lalo was able to develop a great talent for orchestration, since Habeneck had introduced all of France to the musical taste of Beethoven and his orchestrations.

In 1848, after having exercised in the composition, he wrote his first works that did not have a very favorable reception. In fact, two of his first symphonies were destroyed by him, apparently. His first compositions were destined to small instrumental and vocal ensembles, among which stand out the six Romances populaires (1849), the Six Mélodies, on poems by Victor Hugo (1856), two trios with piano (between 1850 and 1852), and different pieces for violin and piano. In view of this he formed in 1855 with Armingaud (violin I), Mas (violin II) and Jacquard (violoncello) the famous «Armingaud Quartet» dedicated to publicize German music, especially Beethoven’s, and he emphasized and acquired a name as a viola interpreter. With two of the members of his quartet he founded a concert company, which was very important for the musical instruction of the French public in the mid-nineteenth century, where only a limited number of people could attend. Thanks to his association the well-known “Chamber Music Society” was born in Paris.


Four years later he composed his String Quartet and in 1866 concluded Fiesque, his first opera (which was never performed but which served to nourish other works such as Divertissement our orchester in 1872 or the Sinfonia in G minor in 1886). This time, towards 1865 returned to the composition with greater maturity than before and no longer abandoned this activity until his death. The decade of 1870 was especially fruitful for Lalo, besides the Violin Concerto (1873) and the Concerto for Cello (1877), Lalo wrote his two most famous works: the Spanish Symphony (1874) and the opera Le roi d’Ys ( 1875). It is worth highlighting the fact that he made protagonists in his concerts both the violin (a tradition that already came from very far away) and the cello, a fact that until then had not been seen too much and that later inspired other composers to do it (for example at the same time). Dvorak). Although the cello concerto is less appreciated in general, it has a great popularity among the cellists, being one of the most played works in the higher conservatories.

The Spanish Symphony acquired renown, and in essence it is a concert for violin in five movements. It is a brilliant composition that was premiered by the Spanish violinist Pablo Sarasate and has remained very popular to date. As for the opera Le roi d’Ys, it was not released until 1888 but it achieved overwhelming success.

At a time when Paris was defending a large-scale model of composition, the Grand-opera, Lalo also did major works such as the ballet Namouna (1882), which he composed under the orders of the Opera de Paris and that was choreographed by Lucien Petipa. This work was not successful among the public and, apart from the admiration of his fellow musicians such as Debussy, Fauré and Chabrier, he remained in the repertoire only as an orchestrated suite.

He died in Paris on April 22, 1892 and is buried in the Parisian cemetery of Père Lachaise. He was never in Spain, which did not prevent him from maintaining a great friendship with the Navarrese violinist Pablo Sarasate and that one of his most relevant works and surely the best known is the Spanish Symphony.

More Facts about Edouard Lalo

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