Adolphe Charles Adam

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Adam, Adolphe (Charles)

Adam, Adolphe (Charles), noted French composer, son of Jean (Louis) Adam; b. Paris, July 24, 1803; d. there, May 3, 1856. He was encouraged by his friend Harold to pursue a career as a composer. After studying piano with Lemoine, he entered the Paris Cons. at 17 and received training from Benoist (organ), Reicha (counterpoint), and Boieldieu (composition). In 1825 he won a 2nd prize in the Prix de Rome with his cantata Ariane a Naxos. His first successful stage score was the opéra-comique Pierre et Catherine (Paris Opéra-Comique, Feb. 9, 1829). Adam achieved his first great success with his opéra- comique Le chalet (Opéra-Comique, Sept. 25, 1834). It was followed by the even more successful opéra-comique Le ’postillon de Lonjumeau (Opéra-Comique, Oct. 13, 1836). His most celebrated score, the ballet Giselle, ou Les Wilis (Paris Opéra, June 28, 1841), has remained a repertory staple for over 150 years. In 1844 he was made a member of the Institut de France. He founded the Opéra-National in Paris in 1847, which was forced to close as a result of the revolutionary events of 1848. Adam was left bankrupt and was forced to take up music journalism to eke out a living. In 1849 he obtained the post of prof. of composition at the Paris Cons., which he held until his death. The opéra-comique Si j’étais roi (Paris Théâtre-Lyrique, Sept. 4, 1852) proved one of his finest late works. His operetta Les pantins de Violette was premiered at the Paris Bouffes-Parisiens on April 29, 1856, just 4 days before his death. In addition to his Giselle, Adam is still fondly remembered for his Cantique de Noël, known in Eng. as O Holy Night.

Works

(all 1st perf. in Paris unless otherwise given): DRAMATIC: Opéra-comique: Pierre et Catherine (Feb. 9, 1829); Danilowa (April 23, 1830); Trois jours en une heure (Aug. 21, 1830; in collaboration with Romagnesi); Joséphine, ou Le retour de Wagram (Dec. 2, 1830); Le morceau d’ensemble (March 7, 1831); Le grand prix, ou Le voyage à frais communs (July 9, 1831); Le proscrit, ou Le tribunal invisible (Sept. 18, 1833); Une bonne fortune (Jan. 28, 1834); Le chalet (Sept. 25, 1834); La marquise (Feb. 28, 1835); Micheline, ou L’heure d’esprit (June 29, 1835); Le postillon de Lonjumeau (Oct. 13, 1836); Le fidèle berger (Jan. 6, 1838); Le brasseur de Preston (Oct. 31, 1838); Régine, ou Les deux nuits (Jan. 17, 1839); Le reine d’un jour (Sept. 19, 1839); La rose de Péronne (Dec. 12, 1840); La main de fer, ou Le mariage secret (Oct. 26, 1841); Le roi d’ Yvetot (Oct. 13, 1842); Lambert Simnel (Sept. 14, 1843; completion of a work by H. Monpou); Cagliostro (Feb. 10, 1844); Le toréador, ou l’accord parfait (May 18, 1849); Giralda, ou La nouvelle Psyché (July 20, 1850); La poupée de Nuremberg (Feb. 21, 1852); Le farfadet (March 19, 1852); Si j’étais roi (Sept. 4, 1852); Le sourd, ou L’auberge pleine (Feb. 2, 1853); Le roi des halles (April 11, 1853); Le bijou perdu (Oct. 6, 1853); Le muletier de Tolède (Dec. 16, 1854); Á Clichy (Dec. 24, 1854); Le houzard de Berchini (Oct. 17, 1855); Falstaff (Jan. 18, 1856); Mam’zelle Geneviève (March 24, 1856). Operetta: Les pantins de Violette (April 29, 1856). Opera: Richard en Palestine (Oct. 7, 1844); La bouquetière (May 31, 1847); Le Fanal (Dec. 24, 1849). Also various vaudevilles and other stage pieces. Ballet: La chatte blanche (July 26, 1830; in collaboration with C. Gide); Faust (London, Feb. 16, 1833); La fille du Danube (Sept. 21, 1836); Les mohicans (July 5, 1837); L’écumeur de mer (Feb. 21, 1840); Die Hamadryaden (Berlin, April 28, 1840); Giselle, ou Les Wilis (June 28, 1841); La jolie fille de Gand (June 22, 1842); Le diable à quatre (Aug. 11, 1843); The Marble Maiden (London, Sept. 27, 1845); Griselidis, ou Les cinq sens (Feb. 16, 1848); La filleule des fées (Oct. 8, 1840; in collaboration with C. de Saint- Julien); Orfa (Dec. 29, 1852); Le corsaire (Jan. 23, 1856). He also wrote sacred and secular choral works, numerous songs, romances, ballads, many piano pieces, etc.

Writings

Souvenirs d’un musicien...précédés de notes biographiques (Paris, 1857); Derniers souvenirs d’un musicien (Paris, 1859).

Bibliography

J. Halévy, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages d’A. A. (Paris, 1859); A. Pougin, A. A. (Paris, 1877); W. Studwell, ed., A. A. and Léo Delibes: A Guide to Research (Westport, Conn., 1987).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Adam, Adolphe (Charles) (b Paris, 1803; d Paris, 1856). Fr. composer and critic. Wrote 70 operas, mostly opéras-comiques, of which best-known are Le Postillon de Longjumeau (1836) and Si j'étais roi (1852). Also wrote church mus., songs, and several ballets, incl. Giselle (1841). Prof. of comp., Paris Cons. from 1849.