A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chelard, Hippolyte


CHELARD, Hippolyte André Jean Baptiste, born Feb. i, 1789, in Paris, son of a musician at the Grand Opéra, was destined for the musical profession from his childhood, and studied at the Conservatoire under R. Kreutzer for the violin, and Gossec, Méhul, and Cherubini for composition. Having won the 'Grand Prix' for composition [App. p.584 adds "1811"] he went to Italy, and studied church music under Baini and Zingarelli in Rome, and dramatic music under Paisiello and Fioravanti at Naples. He produced his first work, a comic opera, 'La casa da vendere,' at Naples in 1815. On his return to Paris he became a violinist at the Grand Opéra, and gave lessons, composing diligently at the same time. After infinite trouble his tragic opera of 'Macbeth' (libretto by Rouget de l'Isle) was produced at the Grand Opéra (June 29, 1827), but it was soon removed from the boards, and Chelard left Paris for Munich, where the success of 'Macbeth' was so decided, that the King of Bavaria made him his chapel-master. He returned to Paris, and remained there till the Revolution of 1830 drove him back to Munich to become widely known as a composer and leader. In 1831 he led the Thuringian Festival at Erfurt. In 1832 and 1833 he was in London conducting the German opera company, of which Schröder-Devrient, and Haitzinger were members.[1] In 1836 he was employed as theatre and concert director at Augsburg, and in 1840 succeeded Hummel as court Kapellmeister at Weimar. One of the events of this time was the arrival of Berlioz in 1843; and it is pleasant to remember that it was Chelard who urged the eccentric Frenchman to visit Mendelssohn at Leipsic, and 'made him blush' at the suggestion that his old friend would probably not be glad to see him. ('Voyage musicale,' Lettre 4.) He was succeeded by Liszt in 1852, but he continued to the close of his life at Weimar, and died in 1861 [App. p.584 "Feb 12"]. He composed several other operas, but none so successful as 'Macbeth.' 'Hermanns-Schlacht' (Munich, 1835) is a solid and carefully written work in the German style. His operas, though full of merit, and effective in their day, are no longer performed; the overture to 'Macbeth' alone is occasionally heard at concerts. While he clung to the style of French romantic opera, he strove somewhat ostentatiously to adopt that of the German school. But he wanted the power to enable him to weld these conflicting elements into a harmonious whole.

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  1. Fétis says that Malibran sang in his 'Student' to 1834.