Like Jean-Baptiste Lully, Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) was an Italian-born composer who made his career in France. In fact, both composers hailed from the same city: Florence. Cherubini made his way to Paris via London and in 1786 was appointed music director of the Italian opera at the Théâtre de Monsieur. Over the next decade or so he consolidated his reputation to the point that when he met Beethoven in 1805, he was hailed by his German contemporary as Europe’s foremost composer of opera. Indeed, Beethoven’s opera Fidelio belongs, in part, to the tradition of ‘rescue opera’ popularised by Cherubini. (Cherubini attended the première of the first version of Beethoven’s opera.) Nowadays, Cherubini is best known for his French opera, Medée. His career had its ups and downs but, happily, finished on an upward swing. In 1822 he was appointed director of the Conservatoire and spent the last two decades of his life composing and teaching. His pupils included leading opera composers of the next generation: Auber, Halévy and Boieldieu.
© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra