1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lalo, Edouard

LALO, EDOUARD (1823–1892), French composer, was born at Lille, on the 27th of January 1823. He began his musical studies at the conservatoire at Lille, and in Paris attended the violin classes of Habeneck. For several years Lalo led a modest and retired existence, playing the viola in the quartet party organized by Armingaud and Jacquard, and in composing chamber music. His early works include two trios, a quartet, and several pieces for violin and pianoforte. In 1867 he took part in an operatic competition, an opera from his pen, entitled Fiesque, obtaining the third place out of forty-three. This work was accepted for production at the Paris Opéra, but delays occurred, and nothing was done. Fiesque was next offered to the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, and was about to be produced there when the manager became bankrupt. Thus, when nearly fifty years of age, Lalo found himself in difficulties. Fiesque was never performed, but the composer published the pianoforte score, and eventually employed some of the music in other works. After the Franco-German war French composers found their opportunity in the concert-room. Lalo was one of these, and during the succeeding ten years several interesting works from his pen were produced, among them a sonata for violoncello, a “divertissement” for orchestra, a violin concerto and the Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra, one of his best-known compositions. In the meanwhile he had written a second opera, Le Roi d’Ys, which he hoped would be produced at the Opéra. The administration offered him the “scenario” of a ballet instead. Lalo was obliged to be content with this, and set to work with so much energy that he fell ill, the last scenes of the ballet being orchestrated by Gounod. Namouna, the ballet in question, was produced at the Opéra in 1882. Six years later, on the 7th of May 1888, Le Roi d’Ys was brought out at the Opéra Comique, and Lalo was at last enabled to taste the sweets of success. Unfortunately, fame came to him too late in life. A pianoforte concerto and the music to Néron, a pantomimic piece played at the Hippodrome in 1891, were his last two works. He had begun a new opera, but had only written the first act when, on the 23rd of April 1892, he died. This opera, La Jacquerie, was finished by Arthur Coquard, and was produced in 1895 at Monte Carlo, Aix-les-Bains and finally in Paris. Lalo had distinct originality, discernible in his employment of curious rhythmic devices. His music is ever ingenious and brilliantly effective.