Adolphe Adam was a French composer of light operas and ballets, with equal success. He was born in Paris on July 24, 1803, the son of composer, pianist and teacher Louis Adam. Although he was not encouraged by his father to become a musician, he decided early on that he wanted to compose music for the theatre.
Early training and education
Adolphe Adam studied at the Paris Conservatory studying counterpoint with Reicha and opera composition with Boieldieu, eventually becoming a composition conductor in Paris.
In early 1825 he won second prize in the prestigious Prix de Rome. The following year, he met the famous librettist and playwright Eugène Scribe, who helped him stage his first operas.
He later produced a successful opera and ballet, staged in London and Russia.
Adam founded the National Theater in Paris.
Main Works of Adolphe Adam
A prolific composer, Adolphe Adam wrote more than eighty stage works, some of which were specially produced for opera-comique (comic opera), for example, Le chalet (The Chalet) and Le postillon de Longjumeau (The Coachman from Longjumeau), had a considerable and lasting success.
Notable works that show a natural sense of theater and graceful melody include the well-known classical romantic ballet Giselle, for which he is best remembered, the opera Si J’etais roi (If I were King). He also wrote another ballet Le Corsaire. Most of Adam’s most beautiful music is found on Giselle.
Adam has also written music and religious songs, the most popular of which is “Cantique de Noel”, popularly known as “O Holy Night”. But he found ballet music easier and more rewarding to compose than operas.
He died in his sleep in 1856, aged 52.