Ferdinand Hérold

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Lithograph by Ferdinand Hérold created by Louis Dupré , circa 1830

Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold (born January 28, 1791 in Paris , † January 19, 1833 in Neuilly-sur-Seine , Hauts-de-Seine department ) was a French composer of Alsatian origin. His best known works are the overture to the opera Zampa and the ballet La Fille mal gardée .


Ferdinand Hérold was the only child of François-Joseph Hérold , a pianist and composer, and Jeanne-Gabrielle Pascal, and grandson of the organist Nicolas Hérold. At the age of six he attended the Hix Institute, where he already excelled in his studies. At the same time, he was taught music theory by François-Joseph Fétis (who later published the magazine La Revue Musicale ) . At the age of seven he played the piano and wrote his first compositions for this instrument on paper.

His father did not intend to open a musical career for him, he himself took this path after his death in 1802. He enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1806 , where he was taught the piano by Louis Adam, the father of Adolphe Adam . Further teachers were Charles Simon Catel ( harmony ), Rodolphe Kreutzer ( violin ) and Étienne-Nicolas Méhul ( composition ). During this time, Hérold became a virtuoso on the piano and violin.

In 1810 he won first prize in a piano competition with his own composition, a combination that had never existed before. In 1812 he won first prize at the Prix ​​de Rome . In the spring of 1813, like all the winners of the Prix de Rome, he composed his first symphony to demonstrate his academic progress.

In 1815 he moved from Rome to Naples for health reasons . Here he composed his second symphony and three string quartets, among other things . His first opera La Gioventú di Enrico quinto was presented here under the pseudonym Landriani and - unlike many other French composers - was welcomed by the audience, but not by his colleagues. He received 5000 lire to teach the daughters of King Joachim Murat . After Murat's execution, he had to leave Italy and went to Austria, where he was employed by Prince Metternich in Vienna for two months and took additional composition lessons from Antonio Salieri . He then returned to Paris via Munich and Switzerland.

In 1816 he worked with Boïeldieu on the opera Charles de France , a work that made his name known. In the same year he composed the successful opera Les Rosières , which he dedicated to his friend and former teacher Méhul. About 30 operas followed, most of which were unsuccessful. In 1817 the opera La Clochette premiered, which was a huge step forward over Les Rosières . Franz Schubert composed two insert numbers for the Vienna premiere, which was translated by Georg Friedrich Treitschke in 1821 . After a long search for a suitable libretto , he composed Premier Venu , a work of inferior quality and without great success. Les Troqueurs (1819) also failed .

Hérold's urge to compose forced him to set every libretto he could get his hands on, which meant that his next operas ( L'Amour platonique and L'Auteur mort et vivant ) failed, after which Hérold was discouraged for three years wrote no further operas for a long time. He became the vocal director and choir director of the Opéra-Comique .

In 1821 he became an assistant at the Théâtre-Italy and traveled to Italy to recruit singers for this institution, which was not only good for his inspiration but also for his health. In 1823 he successfully returned to the stage with Le Muletier . His next opera, Lasthénie , was again only moderately received. At the same time he was working with Auber on Vendôme en Espagne (1823), with which he processed French victories in Spain .

In 1824 he was commissioned by the Opéra-Comique to write Le Roi René . In the same year he became an accompanist at the Théâtre Italy, and two years later choirmaster. In 1825 he wrote the failure Le Lapin blanc - his librettos did not help him write good music.

Marie, on the other hand, his next opera (1826) was a great success, but his obligations at the Théâtre Italy prevented him from continuing on his path, so that he was limited to writing ballet music for the next three years - including a new version La Fille mal gardée, which is still often played today . In 1827 he became the most important replacement at the Paris Opera . On November 3, 1828 he became a Knight of the Legion of Honor . His next opera, L'Illusion (1829), was successful, the next but one, Emmeline (1830), was not.

On May 3, 1831, his most famous opera, Zampa , premiered, which enjoyed great success in France and Germany and is occasionally still performed today. On Zampa followed La Marquise de Brinvilliers ; a joint effort in which Hérold Daniel-François-Esprit Auber , Désiré Alexandre Batton , Henri Montan Berton , Felice Blangini , François-Adrien Boïeldieu , Michele Carafa , Luigi Cherubini and Ferdinando Paër were also responsible.

In 1832 he wrote La Médecine sans médecin and Le Pré aux Clercs , the latter also one of his well-known works, which had its thousandth performance in Paris in 1871. One month after the premiere, Hérold died of tuberculosis , which he had suffered from for a long time. His opera Ludovic , which he could no longer complete, was completed by Jacques Fromental Halévy .

Hérold was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery (Division 13). The house at 10 rue Hérold is the house where he was born; the street was named after him in 1881.



  • 1815, La gioventù di Enrico quinto .
  • 1816, Charles de France ou Amour et gloire (with Boieldieu).
  • 1816–1817, Corinne au Capitole .
  • 1817, Les Rosières .
  • 1817, La Clochette ou Le Diable page .
  • 1818, Le Premier venu ou Six lieues de chemin .
  • 1819, Les Troqueurs .
  • 1819, L'Amour platonique .
  • 1820, L'Auteur mort et vivant .
  • 1823, Le Muletier .
  • 1823, Vendôme en Espagne (with Auber).
  • 1825, Le Lapin blanc .
  • In 1826, Almédon ou le monde renversé renamed Marie .
  • 1829, L'Illusion .
  • 1829, Emmeline .
  • 1830, L'Auberge d'Auray .
  • 1831, Zampa ou La Fiancée de marbre .
  • 1831, La Marquise de Brinvilliers (with Auber, Batton, Berton, Blangini, Boieldieu, Carafa, Cherubini and Paer).
  • 1832, La Médecine sans médecin .
  • 1832, Le Pré aux Clercs .
  • 1833, Ludovic (completed by Halévy).
  • no year, Les Florentines .


  • 1827, Astolphe et Joconde ou Les Coureurs d'aventures .
  • 1827, La Somnambule ou L'Arrivée d'un nouveau seigneur .
  • 1828, La Fille mal gardée .
  • 1828, Lydie .
  • 1829, La Belle au bois dormant ( Sleeping Beauty ), (Choreography: Jean-Louis Aumer )
  • 1830, La Noce de village .

Other important works

  • 1811–1813, Piano Concertos No. 1 in E major, No. 2 in E flat major, No. 3 in A major and No. 4 in E minor.
  • 1812, La Duchesse de la Vallière ou Mlle de Lavallière (with which he won the Prix de Rome).
  • 1813, Symphony No. 1 in C major.
  • 1814, three string quartets.
  • 1815, Symphony No. 2 in D major.


  • Benoît Jean-Baptiste Joubin: Hérold, sa vie et ses œuvres . Heugel, Paris 1868.
  • Hérold, Louis Joseph Ferdinand . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 13 : Harmony - Hurstmonceaux . London 1910, p. 386 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).

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