Fromental Halévy (1799 – 1862). Son of a German Jew who changed the family name in order to conceal his roots, young Fromental Halévy entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of nine and quickly became a favorite of the institution’s director, Luigi Cherubini. An instinctive and brilliant composer, Halévy won the Prix de Rome and travelled a bit before returning to Paris with ambitions as an opera composer. Though unsuccessful at first, he was granted a teaching position at the Conservatoire in 1827; at that point, his fortunes began to change: he wrote the opera Clari for Maria Malibran, and achieved genuine popular success with the comic work Le dilettante d’Avignon. Several other comedies followed, but it was his first grand opera, La juive, that brought the crowds flocking to the box office. This success was followed immediately by another – the comic opera L’éclair – and Halévy’s continued popularity was assured.
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