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Adolphe Adam

The Son of a piano professor at the Paris Conservatoire, Adolphe-Charles Adam was born in 1803. Despite opposition from his father, he eventually entered the Conservatoire, studying Organ and Harmonium under Benoist and later under Boieldieu, and composition under Reicha. He showed quite considerable talent as a composer and by the age of 20 was writing songs for the Parisien vaudeville houses. Two years later, he won the second Prix de Rome. Primarily a composer of operas in the same vein as Rossini and Hérold, many of his works were written to pay off debts brought about by the closure of his theatre, Opéra-National during the revolution of 1848. He had opened the theatre in late 1847 after a quarrel with the director of the Opéra Comique led to a vow from the director never to perform a work by Adam again.

Adam's first solo ballet composition was Faust, written in 1833 for choreographer André Deshayes at the King's Theatre in London. One of his greatest successes followed in September 1834, when the one-act opera Le Chalet was presented. Adam's first work for the Opéra Comique in Paris was a ballet, La Fille du Danube in 1836. Of his 14 ballet scores, the most famous are Le Corsaire and Giselle. Giselle was written in only three weeks and premiered at the Paris Opéra on 28 June 1841. Carlotta Grisi danced the title role. The ballet was an great success and over the next few years was staged in America and throughout Europe.

In 1849, Adam became a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, a position he held until his death in May 1856, two months after the premiere of Le Corsaire.

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