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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."

In the present age, the Flower Duet from Lakmé has become so popular that it is often performed on its own, far surpassing Delibes' other compositions, leading Delibes to be called a classical one-hit wonder.

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.
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88 news items

Northwest Georgia News
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:03:45 -0700

... solos and ensembles with selections by Max Reger, Johann Sebastian Bach, Mariana Obiols, Robert Schumann, Henri Duparc, Arthur Pryor, Claude Debussy, Stephen Flaherty, George Gershwin, Franz Schubert, Leo Delibes, and Sergei Rachmaninov.
Wicked Local Wenham
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 04:15:00 -0700

Music from three centuries for voice, flute, violin and piano will include pieces from J.S. Bach to Camille Saint-Säens, Leo Delibes to Daniel Pinkham. Featured performers include: D'Anna Fortunato, mezzo soprano, Maria Benotti, violin; Emily Murphy ...
VietNamNet Bridge
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:22:30 -0700

Coppelia was originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon to the music of Leo Delibes and with libretto by Charles Nuitter. Nuitter's libretto and mise-en-scene was based upon two stories by ETA Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman), and Die Puppe ...

France Inter

France Inter
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:35:00 -0700

... Camille Saint-Saens : 2ème mouvement du Concerto n°5 "L'Egyptien", Jean-Yves Thibaudet Charles Dutoit dir Orchestre de la Suisse romande Charles Dutoit Piano,; Léo Delibes Lakmé (Prélude) Michel Plasson dir. Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse.
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:04:50 -0700

Milžiniškai miniai, tradiciškai pamojavus baltomis medžiaginėmis servetėlėmis, ant scenos užlipo dvi mažos mergaitės, kurios su fleitomis atliko Gėlių duetą iš Leo Delibes operos Lakme. Šventės taisyklės buvo gana griežtos: drabužiai ir stalo puošybos ...
El Día (Argentina)
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 23:22:30 -0700

Más tarde harían el dúo de las flores de Lakmé (opera de Leo Delibes) que comenzó a destiempo y fue mejorando a medida que avanzaba. A continuación la soprano realizó el aria de la Reina de la noche, La Flauta Mágica de Mozart; esta elección fue ...
Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:11:15 -0700

El concierto se realizará en la Sala Principal de Bellas Artes, donde interpretarán arias y piezas orquestales de Roberto Devereux y Don Pasquale, de Donizetti; I puritani y La sonnámbula, de Bellini; Lakmé, de Léo Delibes; Rigoletto, de Giuseppe Verdi ...


Mon, 04 Aug 2014 09:20:17 -0700

Trois équipes peuvent encore s'inscrire pour le défi des sauveteurs. La compétition est ouverte à toute personne actuellement ou anciennement sauveteur. Défi des sauveteurs, mercredi 6 août, départ à 8 heures Poste de secours, avenue Léo-Delibes.

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