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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