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