Auber, Daniel-François-Esprit, notable French composer; b. Caen, Jan. 29, 1782; d. Paris, May 12, 1871. He was a pupil of Ignaz Anton Ladurner. His first work for the stage, L’erreur d’un moment (1805; rev. as Julie, 1811), attracted the notice of Cherubini, who became his mentor. Auber first gained success as a composer with his opéra-comique, La bergère châtelaine (Paris, Jan. 27, 1820). Shortly after, he met the librettist Scribe, with whom he collaborated on many works for the stage until Scribe’s death in 1861. Following the success of Auber’s Le maçon (Paris, May 3, 1825), a significant work in the development of the opéra-comique genre, he scored an enormous success with his La muette de Portici (Paris, Feb. 29, 1828), a work that launched a new era in French grand opera. The latter’s vivid portrayal of popular fury stirred French and Belgian audiences, leading to revolutionary disturbances following its premiere in Brussels (Aug. 25, 1830). Another fine success followed with his opéra- comique Fra Diavolo (Paris, Jan. 28, 1830), the only score by Auber which remains in the standard repertory. Among his later stage works, the opéras-comiques La part du diable (Paris, Jan. 16, 1843), Haydée (Paris, Dec. 28, 1847), and Manon Lescaut (Paris, Feb. 23, 1856) were influential in the development of the opéra-lyrique genre. From 1842 to 1870 he served as director of the Paris Cons. In 1825 he was named a member of the Légion d’honneur. He was elected to the Inst. of the Académie in 1829. In 1852 Napoleon III appointed him music director of the imperial chapel.
DRAMATIC (all 1st perf. in Paris): L’erreur d’un moment (amateur perf., 1805; rev. as Julie, 1811); Jean de Couvin (Sept. 1812); Le séjour militaire (Feb. 27, 1813); Le testament et les billets-doux (Sept. 18, 1819); Le bergère châtelaine (Jan. 27, 1820); Emma, ou La promesse imprudente (July 7, 1821); Leicester, ou Le château de Kenilworth (Jan. 25, 1823); La neige, ou Le nouvel Éginard (Oct. 8, 1823); Vendôme en Espagne (Dec. 5, 1823; in collaboration with Hérold); Les trois genres (April 27, 1824; in collaboration with Boieldieu); Le concert à la cour, ou La débutante (June 3, 1824); Léocadie (Nov. 4, 1824); Le maçon (May 3, 1825); Le timide, ou Le nouveau séducteur (May 30, 1826); Fiorella (Nov. 28, 1826); La muette de Portici (Feb. 29, 1828); La fiancée (Jan. 10, 1829); Fra Diavolo, ou L’hôtellerie de Terracine (Jan. 28, 1830); Le dieu et la bayadère, ou La courtisane amourese (Oct. 13, 1830); Le philtre (June 20, 1831); La Marquise de Brinvilliers (Oct. 31, 1831; in collaboration with Batton, Berton, Blangini, Boieldieu, Carafa, Cherubini, Hérold, and Paër); Le serment, ou Les faux-monnayeurs (Oct. 1, 1832); Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué (Feb. 27, 1833); Lestocq, ou L’intrigue et l’amour (May 24, 1834); Le cheval debronze (March 23, 1835; rev. version, Sept. 21, 1857); Actéon Qan. 23, 1836); Les chaperons blancs (April 9, 1836); L’ambassadrice (Dec. 21, 1836); Le domino noir (Dec. 2, 1837); Le lac des fées (April 1, 1839); Zanetta, ou Jouer avec le feu (May 18, 1840); Les diamants de la couronne (March 6, 1841); Le Duc d’Olonne (Feb. 4, 1842); La part du diable (Jan. 16, 1843); La sirène (March 26, 1844); La barcarolle, ou L’amour et la musique (April 22, 1845); Les premiers pas (Nov. 15, 1847; in collaboration with Adam, Carafa, and Halévy); Haydée, ou Le secret (Dec. 28, 1847); L’enfant prodigue (Dec. 6, 1850); Zerline, ou La corbeille d’oranges (May 16, 1851); Marco Spada (Dec. 21, 1852); Jenny Bell Qune 2, 1855); Manon Lescaut (Feb. 23, 1856); La circassienne (Feb. 2, 1861); La fiancée du Roi de Garbe (Jan. 11, 1864); Le premier jour de bonheur (Feb. 15, 1868); Rêve d’amour (Dec. 20, 1869). OTHER: 4 cellos concertos (1 not extant); Violin Concerto; other orch. pieces; chamber music; numerous sacred and secular vocal pieces.
E. de Mirécourt, A. (Paris, 1857); B. Jouvin, A. (Paris, 1868); A. Pougin, A.: Ses commencements, les origines de sa carrière (Paris, 1873); J. Cariez, A. (Caen, 1875); A. Kohut, A. (Leipzig, 1895); C. Malherbe, A. (Paris, 1911); R. Longyear, D.F.E. A.: A Chapter in French Opéra Comique 1800-1870 (diss., Cornell Univ., 1957); W. Börner, Die Opern von D.F.E. A. (diss., Univ. of Leipzig, 1962);H. Schneider, Chronologische-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Werke von D.RE. A. (AWV), Band 1.1-2 (Frankfurt am Main, 1994).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire