David, Féliden (-César)

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David, Féliden (-César)

David, Féliden (-César) , French composer; b. Cadenet, Vaucluse, April 13, 1810; d. St.-Germain-enLaye, Aug. 29, 1876. After the death of his parents, he was sent to be a chorister at the cathedral of St. Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence. He entered the Paris Cons, in 1830, where he studied with F. Fetis (fugue) and F. Benoist (organ); he also studied privately with H. Reber. In 1831 he joined the St. Simonians, a messianic socialistic cult patterned after the ideas of Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, Count of St.-Simon (1760–1825). After its forced dis-banding in 1832, he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Near East, where he absorbed the flavor of the Orient. Returning to Paris in 1836, he produced a number of works based upon his travels, many with titles reflecting oriental exoticism. His first success came in 1844 with the symphonic ode Le Desert for Soloists, Men’s Chorus, and Orch. After visiting Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer in Germany in 1845, he turned his attention to opera. He achieved little success, with the exception of his Lalla-Roukh (1862), which retained its popularity for many years. Although he received many awards, including the rank of Officier de la Legion d’Honneur (1862) and membership into the Academic des Beaux Arts (succeeding Berlioz, 1869), his music virtually disappeared; occasional revivals are fostered by those with an interest in the exoticism of the period.


(all 1st perf. in Paris):DRAMATIC: Opera :

La Perle du Bresil (Nov. 22, 1851); Le Fermier de Franconville (1857); Herculanum (March 4,1859); Lalla- Roukh (May 12,1862); La Captive (1860–64); Le Saphirf after Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well (March 8, 1865).I n c i d e n t a l M u s i c : Le Jugement dernier, ou La Fin du monde (1849).ORCH.: 4 syms. (1837, 1838, 1846, 1849).CHAMBER : 2 nonets (1839, lost; 1839); Les Quatre Saisons, 24 miniature string quintets (1845–46); String Quartet (1868); 3 piano trios (1857); many piano works.VOCAL: O r c h . w i t h C h o r u s Le Desert, symphonic ode (Dec. 8, 1844); Mol’se au Sinai, oratorio (March 24, 1846); Christophe Colomb, symphonic ode (March 7, 1847); L’Eden, oratorio (Aug. 25, 1848; full score lost).O t h e r : Choruses; songs.


S. St.-Etienne, Biographie de F. D. (Marseilles, 1845);A. Azevedo, F. D. (Paris, 1863); R. Brancour, F. D. (Paris, 1911);M. Achter, F. D., Ambroise Thomas and French Opera Lyrique (diss., Univ. of Mich., 1972); R. Locke, Music and the St. Simonians: The Involvement of F. D. and Other Musicians in a Utopian Socialist Movement (diss., Univ. of Chicago, 1980); D. Hagan, F. D. 1810–1876: A Composer and a Cause (Syracuse, N.Y., 1985). ov

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire