A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Persuis, Louis
PERSUIS, Louis Luc Loiseau de, born at Metz May 21, 1769, studied under his father, one of the musical staff of the Cathedral, and soon became a good violinist. Having entered the orchestra of the theatre, he fell in love with an actress, and followed her to Avignon. Here he had opportunities of completing his studies, and he also read a great deal of sacred music. Being of an ardent and impetuous character, he began to compose before he was 20, and his first work, an oratorio 'Le Passage de la Mer Rouge,' was produced at the Concerts Spirituels in 1787, but was not published. By this time he had settled in Paris, where his violin-playing was appreciated, especially in the orchestras of the Opéra and the Theatre National. Active, ambitious, and self-confident, he managed to produce his dramatic compositions, and on the foundation of the Conservatoire in 1795, succeeded in obtaining the professorship of the violin. This post he lost in 1802 on the dismissal of his friend Lesueur; but in 1804 he became chef du chant at the Opéra, and afterwards, through Lesueur's interest, was appointed conductor of the Emperor's court concerts, and (1810–15) conductor of the orchestra of the Académie. In this capacity he showed a high order of ability. He was indeed born to command, and the first lyric stage of Paris was never better administered than during the short time (1817–19) of his management. Prematurely exhausted by his feverish mode of life, he died in Paris on Dec. 20, 1819, of pulmonary consumption. A fortnight before his death he received the Order of St. Michel from Louis XVIII, as he had before received the Legion of Honour from Napoleon.Persuis's claim to perpetuation is that of an excellent conductor and an able administrator. His music is forgotten, though he wrote much for the stage, and often with deserved success. The following is a complete list of his dramatic works:—'La Nuit Espagnole,' 2 acts (1791); 'Estelle,' 3 acts (1794); 'Phanor et Angela,' 3 acts; 'Fanny Morna,' opéra comique in 3 acts, engraved, and 'Léonidas,' 3 acts, with Gresnick (1799); 'Le Fruit défendu,' 1 act (1800); 'Marcel,' 1 act (1801); 'L'Inauguration du Temple de la Victoire,' intermède, and 'Le Triomphe de Trajan,' 3 acts, both with Lesueur (1807); and 'Jerusalem délivrée,' 3 acts (1812), of which the score was engraved. Besides these operas he wrote pretty music, sometimes in collaboration with R. Kreutzer, to the following ballets:—'Le Retour d'Ulysse,' 3 acts (1807); 'Nina,' 2 acts (1813); 'L'Epreuve Villageoise,' 2 acts, and 'L'heureux Retour,' 1 act (1815); and 'Le Carnaval de Venise,' 2 acts (1816). Glad to seize any opportunity of making himself heard, Persuis also composed several cantates de circonstance, such as the 'Chant de Victoire' (1806), and 'Chant Français' (1814), and some unpublished church works now in MS. in the library of the Paris Conservatoire.
[ G. C. ]