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Léo Delibes
Delibes Leo Luckhard.png
Léo Delibes
Background information
Born (1836-02-21)21 February 1836
Died 16 January 1891(1891-01-16) (aged 54)
Genres Classical
Occupations Composer
Instruments Piano, Organ

Clément Philibert Léo Delibes (French: [dəlib]; 21 February 1836 – 16 January 1891) was a French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage. His most notable works include ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) as well as the operas Le roi l'a dit (1873) and Lakmé (1883). Some musicologists believe that the ballet in Gounod's Faust was actually composed by Delibes. He died in Paris from natural causes on 16 January 1891, at the age of 54. He was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.

Life and career[edit]

Léo Delibes was born in Saint-Germain-du-Val, now part of La Flèche (Sarthe), France, in 1836. His father was a mailman, and his mother a talented amateur musician. His grandfather had been an opera singer. He was raised mainly by his mother and uncle following his father's early death. In 1871, at the age of 35, the composer married Léontine Estelle Denain. His brother Michel Delibes migrated to Spain; he was the grandfather of Spanish writer Miguel Delibes.

Starting in 1847, Delibes studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire as a student of Adolphe Adam. A year later he began taking voice lessons, though he would end up a much better organ player than singer. He held positions as a rehearsal accompanist and chorus master at the Théâtre Lyrique, as second chorus master at the Paris Opéra (in 1864), and as organist at Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot (1865–71). The first of his many operettas was Deux sous de charbon, ou Le suicide de Bigorneau ("Two sous-worth of coal"), written in 1856 for the Folies-Nouvelles.

Excerpt from Delibes' score: The first few measures of Pizzicato from Sylvia

A ceremonial cantata, Algers, for Napoleon III on the theme of Algiers, brought him to official attention; a collaboration with Léon Minkus resulted, in which his contribution of an act's worth of musical numbers for a ballet La source (1866) brought him into the milieu of ballet. In 1867 Delibes composed the divertissement Le jardin animé for a revival of the Joseph Mazilier/Adolphe Adam ballet Le corsaire. He wrote a mass, his Messe brève, and composed operettas almost yearly and occasional music for the theater, such as dances and antique airs for Victor Hugo's Le roi s'amuse, the play that Verdi turned into Rigoletto.

Delibes achieved true fame in 1870 with the success of his ballet Coppélia; its title referred to a mechanical dancing doll that distracts a village swain from his beloved and appears to come to life. His other ballet is Sylvia (1876).


Divertissement - Pizzicato from Sylvia — 3081 KB

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Performed by l'Atelier Vocal des Herbiers

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It has been suggested that he also wrote the ballet music for Gounod's Faust which had been inserted ten years after the original performance of the opera.[1]

Delibes also composed various operas, the last of which, the lush orientalizing Lakmé (1883), contains, among many dazzling numbers, the famous coloratura showpiece known as the Légende du Paria or Bell Song ("Où va la jeune Indoue?") and The Flower Duet ("Sous le dôme épais"), a barcarolle that Patricia Rozema made famous in her film "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing" and later used by British Airways commercials. At the time, his operas impressed Tchaikovsky enough for the composer to rate Delibes more highly than Brahms—although this may seem faint praise when one considers that the Russian composer considered Brahms "a giftless bastard."[2]

His work is known to have been a great influence on composers such as Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns and Debussy. His ballet Sylvia was of special interest to Tchaikovsky, who wrote of Delibes' score: "... what charm, what wealth of melody! It brought me to shame, for had I known of this music, I would have never written Swan Lake."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ E. Johnson: "Gounod or Delibes? - authorship of the ballet music in Faust", Opera (England) 42:276 Mar 1991
  2. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas, Lexicon of Musical Invective (1953), p. 73. Quoted from a diary entry for October 9, 1886.
Cited sources

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Léo_Delibes — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

130 news items

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:03:45 -0700

La rencontre avec Lakmé, oeuvre majeure de Léo Delibes, constitue une révélation. « L'association Léo-Delibes, reconnue d'utilité publique et basée à La Flèche, m'avait associée au projet. En travaillant les morceaux, j'ai pris conscience de l'immense ...


Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:31:36 -0700

Cue tantrums and tears, closely followed by curiosity and farcical revenge all conducted to the luminously tuneful score by Leo Delibes. If Hynd hasn't quite managed to prune the forest of mime that sprouts all over the first act, it is performed with ...


Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:31:09 -0700

Set to a score by Leo Delibes, the ballet tells the story of the lifelike doll, Coppelia, created by Dr Coppelius. Believing the doll is a real person, local girl Swanhilda sets out to seek her friendship, while Swanhilda's boyfriend Franz declares his ...

Te Interesa

Radio Intereconomía
Fri, 01 Aug 2014 16:26:15 -0700

El Auditorio del Parque del Castillo ha viajado a un mundo de ensueño gracias a este ballet estrenado en la Ópera de París en 1870 y que cuenta con música de Léo Delibes. De hecho, la partitura y el ritmo de la música de "Coppélia" han conseguido ...


Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:00:00 -0700

Coppélia és un ballet en tres actes amb música de Léo Delibes i coreografia original de Saint-León que es va estrenar el 25 de maig del 1870 a l'Òpera de París. Està basada en l'home de sorra d'E.T.A. Hofmann. És una història sobre un excèntric fabricant ...


Fri, 01 Aug 2014 06:41:15 -0700

Aquesta nit de divendres, doncs, es representarà Coppélia, un ballet amb música de Léo Delibes, que se situa històricament en la transició dels grans ballets romàntics parisencs i l´escola clàssica russa. Parla de les aventures de Swanilda, Franz, el Dr.

Radio Bío-Bío

Radio Bío-Bío
Sun, 06 Jul 2014 18:03:56 -0700

Con una ovacionada presentación retornó al Teatro Municipal de Santiago, tras más de un siglo de ausencia, la ópera “Lakmé”, del compositor francés Léo Delibes (“Coppelia”). Su historia romántica, su preciosa música y su puesta en escena, junto a ...


Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:26:15 -0700

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) : L'amor funesto, Me voglio fa'an casa miez'o mare. Eva Dell'Acqua (1856-1930) : Villanelle. Georges Bizet (1838-1875) : Ouvre ton coeur. Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) : Les chemins de l'amour. Leo Delibes (1836-1891) : Les ...

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