Robert le Diable (1831) was Meyerbeer’s first major success and laid the foundations of his fabulous wealth. His next triumph, Les Huguenots (February 1836), was greatly anticipated and saw the phenomenon, in the words of Arthur Loesser (Men, Women and Pianos), of ‘an eminently erethic merchandise label, likely to provoke little haemorrhages of money from almost anyone … Through this chink the smooth Henri Herz thought he could squirm himself into a little fresh, if forbidden, sugar.’ Unable to compose a fantasy on the themes from Les Huguenots, since he and Schlesinger, the opera’s publisher, were sworn enemies, Herz published the above-titled work weeks before Schlesinger’s publication date, ‘providing it with a homemade introduction and a gratuitous air de ballet as an epilogue’. Crafty. No Meyerbeer—and ‘Ein’ feste Burg’ had been in the public domain for centuries. The piece is dedicated to Mademoiselle Marie Saladin de Prégny.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2008