Ambroise Thomas (1811 – 1896). The son of skilled music teachers, Ambroise Thomas was already a superb pianist and violinist by the age of ten. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, toured Europe, and had established himself as a composer by the age of 23. Returning to Paris, Thomas began work on his first operas. At first, he created only light comic works; among them was a bizarre piece (ostensibly based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream) in which a drunken Shakespeare sought his muse. Shortly thereafter, Thomas became a professor at the Conservatoire and began concentrating on heavier fare; he was eventually appointed director of the institution after the success of his operas Mignon and Hamlet.
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