The Company Index
The son of a famous piano teacher, Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold was born in
Paris in January 1791. He composed his first work for the piano at the age of
six under his father's supervision and entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1806
at the age of 15. There his teachers included Charles-Simon Catel (harmony) and
Rodolph Kreutzer (violin) and in 1811, he entered the composition class of the
celebrated composer Etienne Méhul. After six years, he won the Grand Prix de
Rome with his cantata La Duchesse de la Vallière, and his first opera,
La Gioventù di Enrico quinto was produced in Naples three years later in 1815.
In 1816, a short stay in Vienna involved a meeting with Salieri, and upon his
return to Paris, Boieldieu invited him to collaborate on an opera. The result,
Charles de France, was well received. He held the post of accompanist at the
Théâtre Italien in Paris from 1816 to 1826 and then that of Premier chef de
chant at the Opéra During these years, Hérold produced a string of successful
stage works including the operas La Clochette (1817), a version of the tale of
Aladdin and the magic lamp, L'Auteur mort et vivant (1820), Marie (1826), and
the ballets, La Somnambule (1827), La Fille mal gardée (1828) and La Belle au
bois dormant (1829). However, his most successful operas, Zampa (1831) and
Le Pré aux clercs (1832), which created a sensation at it's premiere, are the
compositions for which he is best known.
He died from tuberculosis in Paris in 1833 at the age of only 42. As well as
over twenty operas and five ballets, he had two symphonies, four piano concertos
and numerous chamber and piano works to his name.
Tzu-Chao Chou; photo: Bill Cooper