69. Leo Delibes [365 Composers for 2013]


10th March – Leo Delibes


Delibes (21st February 1836 – 16th January 1891) is our composer for 10th March, to celebrate Mother’s Day (in the UK).
Nationality: French
Lifespan: 53 years
Genre: Romantic
Education: Paris Conservatoire
Fame Ranking: 2

Leo Delibes was a French composer who specialised in music for the theatre – in particular ballet, opera and operettas. He was born to a modest French family, and had a musical mother. After studying at the Paris Conservatoire, Delibes took up the position of accompanist at the Theatre-Lyrique in Paris. Ten years later he was performing the same role but at a more prestigious venue – the Paris Opera. The following decades saw him rise up professionally even further, and he had become a professor of composition at the Conservatoire by 1881.

Delibes’ most enduring works are his operas “Lakme”, and “Le Roi l’a Dit”, a comic opera. “Lakme” is the opera which the beautiful “Flower Duet” comes from, and is the reason why we’ve picked this composer for Mother’s Day. The “Flower Duet” is sung by two sopranos – the daughter of a priest and her servant girl, as they are gathering flowers by a river. It is a piece which remains hugely popular to this day, and has been used in several TV and film productions, such as a ubiquitous British Airways advertising campaign and the 1993 horror film “The Hunger”. His ballet “Coppelia” is also very well-known.

Delibes enjoyed considerable success in his own lifetime. He was not only a master of creating catchy, lively melodies but was also a gifted orchestrator. In particular, it is said that he was an influence on Tchaikovsky’s work.

Here is the famous “Flower Duet”:


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