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Biography
(1842-1912). French composer, especially of opera.

Massenet studied at the Paris Conservatory, winning top honors for his abilities as a pianist and composer. His compositions include nearly 40 stage works - operas and ballets - as well as sacred and secular dramas, choral works, partsongs, 'melodies' (art song), piano works and other instrumental music.

Along with Gounod, Massenet inhabits the first rank of French opera composers of the 19th century. His increasingly successful stage works - including the operas Herodiade, Manon, Le Cid, Esclarmonde, Werther, Thais, Sapho, Cendrillon, Le jongleur de Notre-Dame, Cherubin, and Don Quichotte - are infused with Massenet's distinctive, ingratiating, and beguiling melodies. And the greatest of these is Manon (1884).

As Massenet's stage works were rarely profound, it was their overall effect and charm that won over the public. His operas especially influenced the coming generation of French composers.

In 1878 he became professor of composition at the Conservatory. Gabriel Pierne and Gustave Charpentier were among his students.

Massenet's most popular instrumental works include the 7 orchestral suites and the ballet music for the opera "Le Cid". The 'Meditation' for violin and orchestra - an orchestral interlude between scenes in Act II of his opera "Thais" - remains a perennial concert favorite.
This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 12 Apr 2011
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