Today we’re going to listen and learn about the opera Carmen.
I chose this for today since it’s the anniversary of French composer Georges Bizet‘s death.
Georges Bizet was born in Paris, France. Both his parents were musicians, and they actually wanted their son to become a composer when he grew up! Bizet loved music, but he also loved to read books. His parents wound up hiding his books so that he would spend more time on his music.
When Georges was 10 years old, his father enrolled him in the Paris Conservatory. While he was there, he wrote his only symphony, but it wasn’t performed until many years after he died. Bizet graduated from the Conservatory with awards in both composition and piano.
Bizet also composed operas. His most famous opera is Carmen. When Carmen first opened in Paris, the reviews were terrible. Many critics said there were no good tunes in it, so audiences stayed away.
In the middle of the night during the first round of Carmen performances, Bizet died. He was only 36. Four months later, Carmen opened in Vienna, Austria, and was a smash hit. It is now one of the most popular operas ever written. Bizet never knew that audiences would come to consider it his masterpiece.
Vladimir Horowitz made Carmen his own by turning it into a fantasy (or the more musical spelling – fantasie).
The fantasia (Italian; also English: fantasy, fancy, fantazy, phantasy, German: Fantasie, Phantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, like the impromptu, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form.
When you play wrong notes for an audience, just tell the audience it’s a “Fantasie”, not the original work!
As you can see, Carmen is a popular work. Here it is for two pianos, played by Anderson and Roe.
The Canadian Brass tell the story of Carmen in their own humorous words.
If you want to learn this, just let me know!