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Ernest Guiraud

born: 23 June 1837
died: 6 May 1892
country: France

Ernest Guiraud is mostly remembered today as the supportive composition teacher of both Debussy and Dukas and for having composed some of the recitatives in Bizet’s Carmen, as well as completing the orchestration of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. He was also a composer in his own right, having won the Prix de Rome, and his comic opera Piccolino (1876) was a huge success in its time. He also received a prize for the best orchestral work of the previous two years, beating Saint-Saëns by twenty-eight votes to ten. As Massenet testified at his funeral, Guiraud was unanimously loved and admired by his colleagues, a sentiment that was also expressed by Saint-Saëns’s and Dukas’s decision to orchestrate Guiraud’s opera Frédégonde after his death.

from notes by Philippe Graffin © 2002

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