Léo Delibes

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Léo Delibes [də'lib] or Clément Philibert Léo Delibes (born February 21, 1836 near Saint-Germain-du-Val ( Département Sarthe ), † January 16, 1891 in Paris ) was a French composer. With his memorable melodies, rhythmic brilliance and sparkling colored orchestration, he was one of the most popular stage composers of the Romantic period . He revived the art of ballet like no one since his compatriot Rameau , but also made a name for himself with a few operas. He also created church music and songs.

Léo Delibes, photo from the collection of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University


The son of a postman and a musically gifted mother studied at the Paris Conservatory since 1848 , among others with Adolphe Adam . He was then organist at various churches and répétiteur at the Théatre Lyrique , and from 1865 second choir director at the Paris Opera . He made his debut as a dramatic composer in 1855 with the one-act operetta Deux sous de charbon .

In 1870 his ballet Coppélia (based on ETA Hoffmann's story The Sandman ) was premiered with triumphant success at the Paris Opera. In 1871 he married the actress Léontine Estelle Denain . He gave up his position at the opera in 1872. In 1881 he became a professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory . On April 14, 1883, the premiere of his opera Lakmé took place at the Paris Opéra-Comique , which later conquered the repertoire of opera houses around the world. In 1884 he was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts .

He was buried in the Montmartre cemetery in Paris .

Delibes influenced composers such as Tchaikovsky , Saint-Saëns and Debussy . Referring to Delibe's ballet Sylvia (1876), Tchaikovsky is said to have spoken in a letter of December 7, 1877 to Sergei Taneyev of his infatuation with this “charming” music. If he had only known Sylvia , he added, he would not have written Swan Lake .

The first bars of the pizzicato from Sylvia

In the city of Clichy-la-Garenne there has been a newly built Conservatoire Léo Delibes since 2009 , for which the architect Bernard Desmoulin has been awarded. Incidentally, the composer's brother Michel, who had emigrated to Spain, was the grandfather of the writer Miguel Delibes .

Works (selection)


  • Ernest Guiraud : Léo Delibes . Paris 1892
  • Joseph Loisel: "Lakmé" de Léo Delibes . Paris 1924
  • Henri de Curzon: Léo Delibes . Paris 1927
  • Frits Noske: La mélodie française . Paris / Amsterdam 1954 (with list of romances; English title French Song from Berlioz to Duparc , New York 1970)
  • André Coquis: Léo Delibes. Sa vie et son oeuvre . Paris 1957
  • Mina SK Curtiss: Bizet and his World . New York 1958
  • William E. Studwell: Adolphe Adam et Léo Delibes: a Guide to ReSuper Musicalis Weboru (SMW) . New York 1987

Web links

Commons : Léo Delibes  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Meyer's Lexicon . 7th edition. 1925, Volume 3: “one of the best representatives of graceful, cheerful, finely crafted music” at all
  2. The Swan Lake. Ballet in the Letters of Tchaikovsky . ( Memento of the original from September 8, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved August 13, 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.salikon.dk
  3. Does the coloratura -Prunkstück Bell Song and the Flower Duet . Audio examples under web links