Ambroise Thomas

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Thomas, (Charles Louis) Ambroise

Thomas, (Charles Louis) Ambroise, noted French composer and teacher; b. Metz, Aug. 5, 1811; d. Paris, Feb. 12, 1896. He entered the Paris Cons, in 1828, where his teachers were Zimmerman (piano) and Dour-len (harmony and accompaniment); he also studied privately with Kalkbrenner (piano) and Barbereau (harmony), and subsequently studied composition with Le Sueur at the Cons., where he won the Grand Prix de Rome with his cantata Hermann et Ketty (1832). After 3 years in Italy, and a visit to Vienna, he returned to Paris and applied himself with great energy to the composition of operas. In 1851 he was elected to the Académie, and in 1856 became a prof, of composition at the Paris Cons.; in 1871 he became director there. As a composer of melodious operas in the French style, he was second only to Gounod; his masterpiece was Mignon, based on Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister (Paris, Nov. 17, 1866), which became a mainstay of the repertoire all over the world; it had nearly 2,000 performances in less then 100 years at the Opéra-Comique alone. Equally successful was his Shakespearean opera Hamlet (Paris, March 9, 1868). In 1845 he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, being the first composer to receive its Grand Croix in 1894.

Works

dramatic: (all opéras-comiques unless otherwise given): La double échelle (Aug. 23, 1837); Le perruquier de la régence (March 30, 1838); Le panier fleuri (May 6, 1839); Carline (Feb. 24, 1840); Le comte de Carmagnola (April 19, 1841); Le guérillero (June 22, 1842); Angélique et Médor (May 10,1843); Mina, ou Le Ménage à trois (Oct. 10, 1843); Le caïd (Jan. 3, 1849); Le songe d’une nuit d’été (April 20,1850); Raymond, ou Le secret de la reine (June 5, 1851); La Tonelli (March 30, 1853); La cour de Celimene (April 11, 1855); Psyché (Jan. 26, 1857); Le carnaval de Venise (Dec. 9, 1857); Le roman d’Elvire (Feb. 4, 1860); Mignon (Nov. 17, 1866); Hamlet, opera (March 9, 1868); Gille et Gillotin, opera (Aprii 22,1874); Françoise de Rimini, opera (Aprii 14, 1882). B a 1 1 e t : La gipsy (Jan. 28, 1839; in collaboration with F. Benoist and M. Marliani); Betty (July 10,1846); La tempête (June 26,1889). ORCH.: Fantaisie brillante for Piano and Orch. (n.d.; also for Piano and String Quartet); Marche religieuse (March 25, 1865); Chant de psaume laudate for Violin and Orch. (n.d.). CHAMBER: String Quartet (1833); Piano Trio (e. 1835); String Quintet (1835); piano pieces; organ music. VOCAL: Sacred works, including Requiem Mass for Chorus and Orch. (c. 1840) and Messe solennelle for Chorus and Orch. (Nov. 22, 1857); secular vocal works.

Bibliography

H. Delaborde, Notice sur la vie et les œuvres de M.A. T.(Paris, 1896); H. de Curzon, A. T.(Paris, 1921).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Thomas, (Charles Louis) Ambroise (b Metz, 1811; d Paris, 1896). Fr. composer. Prix de Rome 1832. Wrote some ballets for Paris Opéra, but from 1840 concentrated on operas for Opéra- Comique, achieving greatest success with Mignon (1866) and Hamlet (1868). Prof. of comp. Paris Cons. from 1856, dir. from 1871. Other stage works incl. Le songe d'une nuit d'été (1850), Raymond (1851), Le Carnaval de Venise (1857), and Françoise de Rimini (1882). Also wrote choral works, Fantasia for pf. and orch., chamber mus., and songs.

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